The Digital Mine: Wireless Architecture Path.


From WIFI Mesh to WIFI Bridging to Private iLTE… oh yes, and what about LMR?

The BIG Question:   

So, what is the proper path to the Optimum Wireless Architecture, for the Digital Mine?


  • There is a big difference between WIFI BRIDGING and WIFI MESH… they are not interchangeable terms.
  • There is also a big difference between WIFI of any flavor and LTE.
  • How and when do I integrate or migrate my LMR to LTE PPT


  • CAT and Komatsu are no longer encouraging MESH.  Soon they are expected not even to support it.   CAT already has told client NOT to use MESH.  Cisco, the world’s largest WIFI supplier as an example, does not recommend MESH anymore in Mining and O&G as a transport layer or even as a small area layer.
  • Another few well-known MESH vendors are disabling MESH even in small range Mining or O&G networks.  These vendors do not rent billboards and announce it to the world; some do not even tell their clients.  Never the less, these MESH vendors are disabling MESH and in doing so, changing the architecture from MESH to Bridging.   One big MESH proponent after converting many clients from MESH to Bridging is now redesigning the networks to have no more than three remote AP to each concentrator so that they can offer decent connectivity and lower latency.  Talk about a square peg in a round hole.  If you are planning to subject yourself to so much change and spend so much money, why not just have Broadband PMP, such as Virtual Fiber™.  A Virtual Fiber™ wireless connection to each remote site will deliver much higher performances with; fewer failure points, less CAPEX and much higher performances in MBPS, PPS ( Packet per Second), much lower latency and much more stable latency (less latency jitter).
  • Remember that with WIFI Hot Spot 2.0 (WIFI HS20), you can have Pseudo Mobility.  It is, in fact, seamless roaming at the TCP layer.  Like you have at the airport or the office.   It is not True mobility, but darn close and good enough for may near real-time even real-time applications such as SKYPE and another VoIP.
  • And now Private iLTE (Industrial LTE) has been available, and it is true mobility.  True standards,  really dovetail well with your BYOD strategy.

A mining company with an installed WIFI and LMR system in your mine?

Here is the best path for a highly secure, high-performance Digital Mine Network infrastructure: 

You are a mining company with some legacy wireless systems installations.   If your network components and architecture are not too old, you may not have to do a complete overall to improve your position greatly. 

  • Insert a solid and high-performance Broadband PMP system such as Virtual Fiber™ to lower latency and increase capacity to all fix/nomadic assets.  Note that Shovels are NOMADIC, they are not mobile.  If you have a good mobility network already then, you are fine, but if you do not, you can repurpose your WIFI AP to serve your purpose.
  • Remove MESH protocol ASAP, especially if the WIFI AP supports WIFI HS 2.0
  • If possible Enable WIFI HS2.0 in the mine.   All fix and nomadic assets will greatly benefit instantly; even haulers will connect much better and with more capacity and lower latency.
    • In this case, the Haulers are a WIFI Client connecting to a WIFI BRIDGING AP in HS 2.0 mode
    • Remember that many of the apps can run in batch or NRT (Near-Rear-Time) mode.  These apps can be routed to go to WIFI; even if there is an LTE network.
  • Add True 3GPP LTE Mobility:
    •  For high-performance and secure True-Mobility, add a Private iLTE™ (Industrial LTE), it will deliver to you a very robust 3GPP, True-Mobile Network.
    • You can leave your converted WIFI bridging network in place and keep your Wi-Fi hotspots, to offload the LTE network and keep only the real mobility traffic on LTE.
    • Remember that LTE spectrum is precious and its priority should be to serve real mobile users, not wasted on fixed assets.
    • Just like at Starbucks, at the airports or large sporting events.   Why do you think are MNO (Mobile Network Operators) provide free WIFI data to their power users in these locations?   It is to offload the precious LTE Network so it can be available for real mobility users.
  • Oh yes, and what about LMR?
    • Now that you have your private iLTE™ network in place, time to look at your LMR network. Is it aging? Is it analog or Digital? Would it be nice to have smartphones, tablets, and PC to also connect to it?   What about integrating it into an LTE Push-to-Talk system.  It is quite simple and certainly a risk-free investment.
    • The process of LTE PTT (Push-to-talk) Integration, Migration, Conversion can start at your convenience once you have a private iLTE network in place. And it is at very low cost and no financial or technological risk.   After all, eventually all your systems and users will want smart technology in this hand and how will you do this with your LMR system, even if it is a digital one!

 A mining company with no WIFI or LMR system in your mine?

Here is the best path for a highly secure, high-performance Digital Mine Network infrastructure:

You are a new mining company with no legacy wireless systems installed, or you have a clean sheet of paper mandate from the business unit.   Perhaps the Business unit and the IT dept. Needs a complete overall of the wireless systems to accommodate a new dispatch system or new fleet applications that are demanding much higher capacity and not tolerating latency very well.  So here is what you can do here.  You can start fresh and follow this methodology.

  • As for any project, start with the needs analysis
  • Start looking at a Private iLTE network. You are in mining, and the assets are mobile in most part, so since you do not have to deal with legacy systems, start fresh with the best mobility network you can install.  A Private iLTE network will provide you with all the mobility you need, a standards-based architecture, a scalable architecture and a great step into scaling, BYOD and a full ecosystem of applications, devices, and future.
  • Next, you need to look at adding Push-to-talk and dispatch systems over your LTE network. A PTT over LTE systems will enable your people with a flurry of network and device capabilities.  Oe of the additional benefit will be biometrics and HSE sensors for staff health and monitoring such as ambient temperature, Stagg health, ambient noise, the presence of gas or other chemical and so on.
  • Once you have you iLTE network in place, and you identify the fixed and nomadic high capacity requirements people or machines as well as their locations. At these locations,  you may want to look at complementing with a few WIFI AP’s in the densest areas like wash carts, office areas and other places where a high density of users and traffic are.   The Starbucks Offload concept again.

What are your thoughts?

Agree?  Disagree?… Contact me


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