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Natural resource firm provides voice, X.25 on three continents.

Being a partner in an extensive copper and gold mining operation isn't all a bed of roses. The far-flung nature of such operations can be a true challenge to communications.

After 25 years of working together, global natural resource company Freeport McMoran and the country of Indonesia finally hit paydirt in the late 1980s. P.T. Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of the New Orleans-based Freeport McMoran, needed communication links with the mine in Tembagapura, Irian Jaya; the corporate headquarters in New Orleans; a corporate office in Jakarta, Indonesia; and two purchasing offices, one in Singapore and the other in Cairns, Australia.

The network has three goals: providing voice (including fax) interconnection among the existing PBX systems, serving as the backbone for the X.25 data network, and accommodating future plans for video and new data applications.

"Realiability and a high level of quality were major objectives, since the mine resides in some of the most rugged territory on earth," says D.D. Scarabin, superintendent of communications systems. "To reach Tembagapura, a single 102-kilometer road has been built from the swamps on the south of the island up into the Jayawidiaya mountains, where the town of 12,000 inhabitants is located."

Freeport Indonesia saw the need to rationalize, expand and upgrade the Freeport international private network for growing requirements and new applications. One of the prime objectives for the network was to get reliable, high quality communications to Tembagapura from New Orleans via direct, private access. Existing domestic facilities did not offer digital data services or reliable voice service, particularly to Tembagapura and other locations in Irian Jaya.

"Although the telecom infrastructure is improving, existing digital services in Indonesia are limited and quite expensive," explains Scarabin.

"We had to create a solution that would maximize effectiveness of available bandwidth. Network facilities were considered based upon their ability to produce optimal trunk bandwidth usefulness. New tariffs had to be established, negotiated and approved."

Freeport Indonesia also has limited dedicated communications specialists, so network support in Indonesia, at hardware, software and systems levels was crucial to the success of the project.

The firm contracted with OTC Customer Planning, Australia's overseas carrier, to design their new private network. Freeport Indonesia's existing data network was on General DataComm Inc. Minimuxes using voice compression. OTC gathered considerable information and comparative quotes for bandwidth management systems to provide the backbone of the new network. GDC again was selected based on earlier evaluations, favorable experience with the Minimuxes, and a prior decision to employ the TMS at Freeport's main pass 299 sulfur mine in offshore Louisiana.

Transmission methods vary by topology and location. Reliable communications from Tembagapura and Jakarta are via satellite. Jakarta communicates with New Orleans via satellite transmission as well. Cables tie Jakarta to Sydney, Australia, and Sydney to both New Orleans and Cairns. Point-to-point microwave radio transmission plays a role in this diverse network as well.

Overseeing management of the network, two TMS Controllers reside in Sydney and in Tembagapura. The Sydney controller assures mastership in a non-Freeport location, offering transparent solutions to minor problems and faults, as well as full diagnostic and major fault reporting from a reliable source.

Implementation of the network was placed under control of GDC's international program management team who, in cooperation with Indonesian and Australian distributors, assisted with network installation and training.
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Title Annotation:Freeport McMoran Inc's voice/data network
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Words:553
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