Higher education Chief Information Officers (CIOs) face multiple challenges. These challenges concern network architecture, network security, broadband and Wi-Fi, network accessibility, password security, students and instructors access to learning materials, and tech support to name a few.
During and post-pandemic, a new frequent challenge for CIOs is how to ensure student accessibility for distance learning in a blended learning environment. An LTE network (Long-Term Evolution), is a standard for a fast wireless broadband communication for mobile devices and data terminals. It is also referred to as 4G LTE.
A strong private LTE network connection can provide academic success by keeping students and staff connected off-campus. During the past year, we have learned about the paramount significance of ensuring a reliable Internet connection that supports hybrid learning as well as on-campus.
During the recent Fierce Wireless “Private Wireless Networks Summit,” Prash Ramani, from Motorola Solutions, spoke during the session ‘Private Wireless Case Studies’ about how solutions such as Motorola’s NITRO™ can help higher education overcome the digital divide helping with digital inclusion of minorities and students in rural areas.
“Private networks can bridge the digital divide bringing equity and broadband, providing Internet service to students who are learning remotely, who live near a service provider, a carrier, or the Internet service is not good, or they just cannot afford it,” said Prash Ramani.
Most of last year has been remote or blended learning. The Internet is paramount for every student to succeed. The first example we think of is that the entire library is now digital. It all requires a fast, reliable Internet connection.
The Digital Divide
Upcoming challenges include:
- Remote or hybrid learning
- The library is the Internet today
- How underserved students will get access to the same educational services
- Looking ahead: Will the digital divide grow?
Current solutions include:
- Mi-Fi hotspots: Expensive, lack of control
- Modems in parked buses: Are difficult for students
- Long-range Wi-Fi: Is inflexible, and has performance issues
- Fiber: Requires an extensive infrastructure
A private wireless network solves all of the challenges without being an expensive solution. With a private LTE wireless network every student can access online learning programs from their own homes.
The functional and cost-effective solution: California School District case study
Benefits of a private LTE network include:
- Enterprise-grade private LTE as a wireless backhaul to the institution’s network
- Heavy maintenance work in each student’s home
- Complete ownership over the network
- Every student’s home transformed into a classroom
- Improved data streaming capabilities, capacity, range, and increased security
- Lower ongoing maintenance costs and streamed network support
- Students’ learning is powered with lightning-fast private broadband data
- Comprehensive data coverage supports a range of connected devices including laptops, tablets, smartphones
How a private LTE network works:
Smart, connected colleges and universities become part of smart cities
Students and instructors get connected through a Customer Premise Equipment (CPE), which provides connectivity to the network. According to a Motorola Solutions’ whitepaper, each CPE comes with a router that will serve as the access point for all the devices, from the comfort and safety of their homes.
Through a private LTE network, colleges and universities become part of the connected smart cities. Higher education, and education in general, will experience the long-term benefits of distance learning as long as institutions act fast investing in state-of-the-art technology to facilitate the distance learning experience. The benefits of a strong network connection in academics cannot be denied.
Additionally, many of Motorola’s solutions are eligible for grant funding through the CARES Act.
Fierce Education in collaboration with Fierce Wireless and Fierce Telecom will be hosting "The Connected Campus" summit event on August 31 including “Next Gen Network Strategies for Higher Ed”, “Private Wireless Pro’s & Cons”, and “Campus Cloud” sessions. For more information, go to: https://www.fiercedigitaltechevents.com/connected-campus