Under the contract, Telstra and satellite services provider O3b Networks have partnered to deliver O3b’s high-speed broadband through its new 100 megabits per second (Mbps) satellite link to Newcrest's Lihir mine in PNG’s New Ireland Province.
Telstra’s director of global connectivity and network Jim Clarke says under the agreement, Newcrest’s wide area network (WAN) service will be extended by Telstra via a constellation of MEO satellites.
“This new satellite service is an exciting addition to Telstra’s world-class network and will see enhanced connectivity delivered to more remote locations around the world,” Clarke says.
The Lihir operation was previously subscribed to 6Mbps and 10Mbps geostationary satellite links 36,000 kilometres above the earth’s surface.
And, previous attempts to address the problem through microwave links and submarine fibre optic cable proved unviable, given Lihir is about 200 kilometres from the provincial capital, Kavieng.
“Newcrest is proud to make use of this innovative new service to significantly improve the network experience at Lihir”, said chief information officer Gavin Wood.
“As well as enabling better IT and digital solutions for our operation, the new link will help to make Lihir a better place to work and live for our workforce.
“This new satellite link utilises medium-earth-orbit technology, approximately 8000 kilometres above the earth’s surface and delivers fibre-like bandwidth and speed to remote locations. The speed is similar to that experienced in major centres like Port Moresby.
“Any mining company claiming it wants to be a leader in the application of digital technologies cannot be serious about that without first delivering quality network connections to their sites.”
Executive general manager Cadia and Lihir, Craig Jetson, said the Lihir workforce and community members were already benefitting from the improved technology.
“This new satellite service has provided us with the opportunity to access technologies that are reliant on high bandwidth platforms. This further streamlines our operations, making us more efficient and cost effective.”
O3b Networks chief executive Steve Collar said, “Providing reliable connectivity for remote work sites like mines or oil rigs is no longer a nice to have – it’s operationally essential.”