Original Source

The content for this blog is derived from the original interview published in COMMUNICATIONS DAY, 10 April 2024.

Acknowledging: Rohan Pearce as Author

Managing Editor, COMMUNICATIONS DAY

5G as a Service

Perth’s Titan ICT is working on bringing a 5G as a Service to market with a particular eye on what managing director Chris Upstone described as “emerging mining companies”. Titan ICT is part of the broader Titan Group which also includes the relatively new Vitalis Solutions, focused on healthcare ICT and, until its acquisition by Systra last month, Rail Systems Australia.

“The commonality between all three companies has always been to provide client-side advisory services,” Upstone said. “We then have the capability to go into the engineering and engineering design stages for those clients, the subsequent systems integration and managed services”.

Focus on Mining and Energy

Titan ICT has a focus on the mining and energy sector, with capabilities in mission critical telecommunications and network solutions, Upstone said.

“Private LTE has been a big part of our business for many years now since it first really started playing a role in the mining industry,” he said, though he added that Titan “often deliver microwave, WDM fibre solutions and digital mobile radio solutions for those sorts of organisations”.

 

Emerging Mining Companies

Titan ICT has a track record with most of the tier one mining companies but also services what he described as the “smaller emerging mining companies”. The second category is where the business sees a particular opportunity with its 5G as a Service play.

“As the technology in IoT and in 5G becomes more readily accessible, our view is to lower the capital barrier to entry for businesses,” Upstone said. “Quite often the global mining giants will stump up several million in CapEx to build a private network,” but some of the smaller organisations would “prefer to consume as a service”.

Upstone said that he was hopeful that within the next 6 to 12 months Titan ICT would bring a “robust” 5G as a Service offering to market.

AWL Acquisition

Last year, the company acquired an Area Wide Licence that gives it mid-band spectrum in key mining rich areas across parts of WA, Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia.

In addition to the planned 5G product, Upstone said that Titan ICT was working with existing customers to help alleviate capacity constraints although he stressed that the company wasn’t interested in spectrum squatting and would provide access to spectrum for customers and non-customers.

 

Mining Industry is Evolving and Maturing

“The industry has matured a lot, I think, since people first went out there and said, ‘Okay, we’re going to deploy 4G LTE services for our mining company,’” he said.

“We’re now seeing a whole host of different applications and new use cases for that private network in these mining companies”.

Mining companies’ technology investment is generally driven by three things, he said. “It’s how do they improve their production capacity, how do they reduce the cost of that production — and most importantly, how do they do that safely.”

“We’ve seen many of these organisations pivot from, ‘We’re going to build an LTE network, for example, to run our autonomous haulage fleet across the Pilbara. That was generally where it started. That’s now expanded out to a whole raft of different automation use cases across the mining value chain.”

Digital Transformation

He said there was also a trend of organisations running more enterprise applications over the top of private networks initially designed purely for mining automation use cases. Upstone said that Titan ICT had seen a number of clients start to “test the water with 5G” though a lot of customers are still seeking to sweat their existing investment in LTE.

Upstone said that he was starting to see some greenfield 5G deployments where businesses didn’t have an existing private network. However, he added that the growth of AI and the digital transformation of the mining industry would likely lead to increased need to invest in low-latency networks.

“We expect to see an exponential increase in the demand for 5G services,” he said.

“I’d say it’s a little early just yet in terms of seeing that demand come through, but it’s a matter of time.”

 

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