Two wireless service companies are teaming up to help West Texas oilfield workers stay connected.
This week Infrastructure Networks and Nokia announced they’re expanding their 5G wireless data service throughout 130,000 square miles of the Permian Basin.
It seems in the Permian Basin oilfield workers can get their hands on just about anything they look for from crude oil to natural gas.
But there is one thing that isn’t so easy to find out there: cell phone signal.
“Every day, three or four hours every day,” Jose Hernandez said about how often he loses signal on the job.
It’s hard to believe an industry so rich in technology could have a blind spot like this, but infrastructure networks said it’s a weak spot they hope to strengthen.
INET’s CEO said their improved communications will help oil producers communicate with energy experts from miles away and transport something nearly as valuable as the oil itself.
“But it’s really a lot about the data and information that’s generation during the well construction process or during the producing process and being able to analyze and interpret that data for sites and help them manage more efficiently, more productively, more safely,” CEO Mark Slaughter said.
Speaking of safety, strong service is especially important for Jose Hernandez, who spends up to ten hours driving.
Drivers like Hernandez don’t mind spending all day on the road, until they run into an emergency and look down to find they have no way to call for help.
“I know a couple friends that have break down on the road in the middle of the night, at two, three o’clock in the morning until another driver, another friend pulls over and says ‘Hey, what’s going on?’” Hernandez said. “They say ‘Oh, I’ve got this problem’. So, if the other driver has a better signal, he can call the company, or they can call the mechanic. They can help.”
It’s frustrating for Hernandez considering he paid hundreds every month to get wireless data on the job, but even that doesn’t do the trick half the time.
“I loaded my load, I got signal up there, but as soon as I start driving on Highway 67, I lost signal until I arrived at Big Lake,” Hernandez said. “I got signal for another 15 minutes and then, again, no signal.”
INET said it’s also expanding its services into other energy hot spots like North Dakota, South Texas, Oklahoma and Southeast New Mexico.