AS ABOVE, SO BELOW: While all the drama about 5G has remained on the surface of the Earth, there has been a hidden project going on in a place deep below . . . in a Swedish underground mine. Around 600 meters down in a mine outside of Skellefteå, the mining company Boliden, together with the multinational telecommunication giant Ericsson and Telia, have finalized their tests for a new 5G network. The new technology is said to propel forward greater progress for a more efficient industry and better working environment. Will this world’s first underground 5G network live up to this expected efficiency as concerns about 5G continue to appear? The geopolitical and commercial wars over which company or country will dominate the 5G infrastructure of the world are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to 5G applicability, but a new venture in Sweden shows us its more innovative side . . .
The 5G Revolution . . .
There is a force in the world that comes in many shapes and forms, but it ultimately links back to the sweeping technology that is rolling out in all corners of the world. The 5G revolution is here. Attempts and experiments are now underway to see what the aspiring mobile technology could entail for humanity – and it is not only related to communication itself, but is now being used creatively in a myriad of ways: Virtual Reality (VR) and autonomous vehicles. In Sweden, however, they have experimented with both of these things, but have now tried to find solutions to underground problems. It was in early December that the very first 5G network was opened in Sweden at KTH Technical University in Stockholm. And now, intensive work is ongoing, where some of Sweden’s largest companies cooperate with Ericsson to provide solutions to societal inefficiencies. They started asking questions about how to reduce these inefficiencies long before 5G appeared, but they wasted no time and started working on a project that seemed to “dig towards the future” . . .
The cave digging the future . . .
The world’s first 5G network underground in the Kankberg mine in Västerbotten. The network will be used to further develop solutions for automated mining. Yes, you read that right, automated mining. What you are probably thinking is: could this lead to our mines becoming human-free in the future? Maybe, but let us first understand how it works. It is based on Ericsson’s new 5G interface, called “New Radio” (NR). The infrastructure making this possible has been developed for the last four years and it was this year that they managed to get the last piece of the puzzle in place to make it official: the world’s first and largest subterranean 5G network.
The 5G technology is considered to have many advantages over other communication solutions in connection with demanding environments such as mines and the manufacturing industry. With features such as short response time and the possibility of local data management, Boliden describes 5g as “the optimal technology for meeting the mine’s need for a safe working environment and high efficiency”. In regard to a safe working environment, they have even relocated the “brain of the network” down to the mine itself all the way from Stockholm (note: Stockholm is one hour away by plane) precisely for safety reasons, allowing it to independently function if needed. They trust this network enough that should they cut the cable to Stockholm completely, it would still run without problems. According to Peter Burman, the chief of the program at Boliden, this is one of the “coolest networks that have been built by Telia and Ericsson … and they’ve done it in a mine” (Source: NyTeknik).
The operation in the mine is also run on dual core, using one of two networks through a special SIM developed by Boliden. According to Boliden’s website, the long-term goal is to streamline mining so that production can continue around the clock. It’s interesting that both efficiency and safety are solved by 5G in this case. The safety aspect is crucial as the 5G network will allow for greater accuracy in terms of determining hazardous areas in the mine itself and targeting employees that are stuck in a particular areas by showing a 3D model of the mine with real-time information. From the perspective of safety, this move is greatly welcomed, but whether this efficiency can be demonstrated is a matter of looking at the numbers, so no comparisons can currently be made.
From a general Swedish perspective, 5G has already begun to spread. Experts in the country are mentioning 5G in relation to a new industrial revolution where further Swedish tech companies will thrive. Sweden is certainly off to a good start, and the Kankberg mine in Västerbotten can be sure to be proud of its milestone as the first subterranean 5G network. Whether they have struck gold with their pickaxe is yet to be seen, but in terms of technological advancement and safety features that come with it, the light at the end of the tunnel shines bright . . .
Evolvera – always changing, always evolving . . .