LTE still faces a few challenges in some mining environments. However, the promises of predictability, connectivity and speed cannot be overlooked.

What if the performance of LTE in mining could be enhanced by a meshing solution for complete coverage? At 3D-P, we have developed a new hybrid LTE/InstaMesh® client solution that brings extended coverage, seamless roaming and L2 support through true peer-to-peer meshing capability.

Reliable and complete coverage

Leveraging the meshing capability of the hybrid LTE/InstaMesh client can solve a number of connectivity issues.

First, in some deployments, connectivity at the working face, in drop cuts, or in blind spots created by terrain can be challenging. In those situations, when the LTE link is lost, the 3D-P hybrid client can utilize any of the radios available on nearby mobile equipment to remain connected by meshing with those connected neighbors or available infrastructure. This peer-to-peer connectivity may even be used by some applications, even when completely outside of any up-link connectivity.

In addition, a hybrid solution can provide significant throughput increases in high traffic areas where the deployed LTE network may be reaching its throughput limit. The solution allows traffic to be routed through locally deployed meshing infrastructure providing load balance and increasing available throughput in the area.

From a cost perspective, a hybrid LTE solution can provide significant cost reduction when utilizing a public LTE network. Vehicle-to-vehicle traffic can remain local, peer-to-peer, while only the traffic intended for servers back in the office utilize the LTE network.

Seamless roaming

Even in LTE deployments, roaming challenges can arise. Whether it’s roaming between separate LTE networks, roaming between Wi-Fi and LTE, or just handling challenges when connection is spotty and intermittent, these events can be challenging. In the worst cases, these events can take over a minute, with the device out of coverage during that period.

The 3D-P hybrid solution leverages the Rajant InstaMesh algorithm to effectively remove roaming events all-together, through a ‘Make-Make-Make’ solution, rather than ‘break-then-make’ or even ‘make-before-break’. The solution establishes multiple active connections, including the LTE link, links to InstaMesh infrastructure where available and links to any nearby client devices who may have LTE or InstaMesh uplinks available.

Each of those connections is analyzed on a packet by packet basis, to determine the best route for that particular traffic. Instead of roaming off one connection, and onto another, the device simply sends the traffic over the best currently available link. If a link is dropped, the device already has available alternate links, and can route traffic over them without the delays required for connection.

L2 Support

While many mining applications require L2 connectivity, LTE is a L3 technology.

3D-P’s hybrid client provides access to L2 network functionality over an L3 network like LTE, by creating a tunnel over the LTE network, from the client device back to the customer’s network for connection to the application servers. This tunnel is managed by the hybrid LTE/InstaMesh client, providing connection over the tunnel whenever the LTE link is utilized, or communicating natively on the L2 network when traffic stays local.

The solution minimizes impact to applications, introducing very little latency to mining applications that rely on this connectivity.

A solution that supports autonomy

With its non-event roaming capability, the hybrid LTE/InstaMesh solution ensures your autonomous equipment has mission critical connectivity including high throughput, low latency and redundancy. Where connectivity to the network is king, the hybrid solution stands alone. The solution provides the ultimate in redundancy, ensuring delivery of every packet.

Supporting network design requirements, the 3D-P hybrid client can also support the segregation of your network allowing the autonomous application to reside on its own network, while the other on-board applications reside on a separate network, providing additional control of the network for autonomy.