First 5G Network Operational in Underground Mine in China

By Barnaby Lofton, June 8, 2020

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China continues to lead the 5G race, rolling out coverage on trains, metros, buses, boats and now even hundreds of meters underground, in a coal mine. 

The first commercial underground 5G network in China became operational in a coal mine in the northern province of Shanxi last month, as reported by China Daily. It sits 534 meters below ground, making it the deepest network in the country. The highest 5G base in comparison, sits on Mount Everest at an altitude of 6,500 meters, which was recently completed in May. 

5G allows ease of communication between workers above and below ground, allowing HD video calls (which was impossible before), the exchange of real-time data from inside the mine, and allows the use of intelligent remote control equipment which frees workers from a dangerous working environment. Additionally, advanced technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence and virtual reality can also now be applied.

The network was built in partnership with China Mobile and Huawei by China’s largest hard coal producer, Yangquan Coal Industry Group. For data geeks, the deputy general manager of Yangquan notes, “with the integrated 5G coverage, the data upload rate is above 800 Mbps and the transmission latency is less than 20 milliseconds in the mine.” In a report by Statista, the average download speed of the 4G network in China was 24.02 Mbps in Q3 of 2019 (which is more than 30 times slower).

According to Mining Technology, China operates the second and third largest coal mines in the world – both located in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. Other traditional coal mine companies are also jumping on the 5G bandwagon, working with telecom giants such as China Unicom, ZTE and China Telecom. 

READ MORE: Guangzhou Wants 65,000 5G Base Stations by 2021

[Cover image via China Daily]

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