Digitalization is rapidly transforming education at all levels. In K-12 schools, colleges and universities, the evolution of data-driven technologies has opened the door to a host of compelling online learning and campus operations applications. To take advantage of these applications, educational institutions need networks that can provide reliable, high-performance connectivity campus wide and ensure that all students have access to broadband service.
Homegrown campus Wi-Fi solutions fall short
Educational institutions recognize this need and are working to modernize their networks for the digital age. To date, many have focused on complementing their fixed Ethernet infrastructure by upgrading or expanding existing campus Wi-Fi networks.
Some of these institutions are opting for do-it-yourself (DIY) approaches that involve integrating Wi-Fi access points, internet routers, cables and open-source software into one network. However, their IT departments often lack the technical skills and resources they need to succeed with these efforts. What’s more, the limitations of Wi-Fi technology mean that most homegrown solutions fall short of expectations when it comes to capacity, coverage, reliability, security and mobility. They also tend to be more expensive than expected after commissioning.
Standards-based LTE solutions remove risk
A better and more predictable approach for institutions is to partner with an established solution provider to deploy a private wireless network based on standardized, future-safe 4.9G/LTE technology. Private 4.9G/LTE networks meet the stringent demands of digital applications with pervasive, ultra-reliable indoor and outdoor coverage, high capacity, low latency, strong security and seamless mobility. They also lower risk by offering simpler deployment, lower total cost of ownership and improved upgradeability compared to Wi-Fi.
By complementing their existing Ethernet and Wi-Fi infrastructure with a dedicated 4.9G/LTE network, institutions can provide broadband connectivity for everyone and everything and support a new generation of educational applications and campus services. They can also create a path to 5G wireless technology, which will take network performance and coverage to new heights and unlock countless possibilities for teaching, learning and operations.
Connectivity for innovative educational applications
Private 4.9G/LTE networks make it possible for institutions to use technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance in-class studies and present exciting and engaging online learning opportunities to students.
For example, high-performance private wireless networks can enable instructors to use the metaverse to provide access to immersive virtual spaces where students can meet, collaborate and learn. Imagine a virtual field trip to the Taj Mahal or a remote, real-time orchestra rehearsal. In addition, private 4.9G/LTE networks can power AR/VR tools that allow students to practice and get coaching on technical skills that will help them succeed in their careers, whether they aspire to be surgeons, aircraft mechanics or power plant engineers.
A private 4.9G/LTE network can also provide a connectivity foundation for educational applications driven by AI and machine learning. In K-12 schools, these applications could help teachers introduce adaptive learning and tailor resources to the needs of each student. In higher education institutions, they could power chatbots that enable highly adaptive, personalized learning experiences.
Closing the digital divide
The pandemic has highlighted the digital divide that still exists for millions of students. Private wireless networks help K-12 schools and local authorities close this divide by bringing broadband access to students. Schools in urban areas can use private 4.9G/LTE networks to deliver reliable high-speed internet service to unconnected or underserved households. In rural areas where students live farther from campus, schools can combine private wireless with Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) gateways deployed in or near students’ homes to ensure equal access to online learning.
On university and college campuses, private wireless networks can enhance connectivity for student dormitories and residences. They can support affordable high-speed internet, emergency calling and smart home services that enhance quality of life and empower all students to succeed.
Enhancing campus operations
The benefits of standards-based private wireless networks can extend to campus operations, too. For instance, 4.9G/LTE networks can improve campus safety and security by reliably connecting systems such as cameras, smoke detectors, emergency call buttons and surveillance drones. They can create efficiencies and improve operational awareness by enabling campus workers to communicate using push-to-talk and push-to-video services. And they can keep students, staff and visitors informed by connecting digital billboards that display general, wayfinding or emergency information.
Institutions that choose private 4.9G/LTE connectivity can enhance campus operations and student life with new e-services for dining, event ticketing, housing services and community engagement. The seamless mobility provided by 4.9G/LTE and future 5G networks can even make it possible to complement these capabilities with drone or autonomous vehicle-based delivery services.
Schools should invest in private wireless today
Rapid technology evolution and adoption have made it essential for K-12 schools, colleges and universities to digitalize their tools, services and applications. These institutions can’t rely on DIY Wi-Fi solutions. They need reliable wireless broadband technologies that can support a quick and successful digital transformation.
Private wireless solutions based on standardized 4.9G/LTE technology can address this need by meeting the strict security, reliability, coverage, mobility, capacity and flexibility demands of digital applications. These solutions are available for deployment today. By making the move to private wireless now, institutions will be ready to support innovative educational, connectivity and campus services that can keep pace with the fast-changing needs of students, instructors and staff.