Smarter Wireless 5G Networking for Smarter Universities

By Matthew Vulpis May 23, 2022

The recent trend of digitalization has not only led to the adoption of innovative devices and applications by enterprises but has also created a new emphasis on connectivity in the business world. There is currently a tremendous amount of interest in enterprises using cellular technologies, such as LTE (News - Alert) or the new 5G networks, for private or localized site-specific wireless use cases and applications. More and more, enterprises today wish to commission and directly own, their own 4G/5G networks, in roughly the same way they own Wi-Fi.

The “democratization” of private LTE and 5G, enabled by local spectrum allocations, cloud-based core networks, and a rapidly-growing ecosystem of vendors and integrators is happening quite swiftly. Tens of thousands of private cellular networks will be deployed over the next few years. According to a new forecast from IDC, the global market for private LTE and 5G wireless infrastructure is tipped to grow almost fourfold during the next five years and be worth a whopping USD 8.3 billion in 2026.

“The shift in enterprise priority is happening across a variety of industries, as private network technology offers an abundance of benefits,” said Jonathan Schwartz, founder and CEO of Pente Networks, a provider of 4G/LTE/5G mobile operating systems. “Enhanced coverage, in both range and connectivity, as well as full control of the wireless networks are among the top reasons universities have come to us to transform and improve their aging WiFi (News - Alert) infrastructure. The rise of cloud and IoT technology, such as automation systems, robotics, cameras/surveillance, and sensors is also driving the demand for faster, more resilient, secure, and affordable connectivity.”

Schwartz explained that their growth in the US among universities, school districts, and other sectors has also been driven by the FCC (News - Alert) auction that took place roughly two years ago in which the Citizens Broadband Radio Spectrum (CBRS) was auctioned off. CBRS refers to 150 MHz of spectrum in the 3550 MHz to 3700 MHz range, 3.5 GHz to 3.7 GHz. The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had initially designated for sharing among three tiers of users: incumbent users, priority access license (PAL) users, and general authorized access (GAA) users.

“The decision to auction off the CBRS meant that for the first time, the availability of low cost, shared wireless spectrum using the CBRS in the 3.5-3.7 GHz band now allows enterprises to own and operate private LTE and 5G networks,” Schwartz said. “CBRS has quickly become sought-after by organizations of all shapes and sizes, as it helps overcome the limitations of Wi-Fi and provides a more efficient option for large commercial enterprises.”

CBRS helps enable enterprise apps that require real-time decision-making at the edge and demand AI-based learning models in the cloud, Schwartz explained. “Such apps automate traditionally manual tasks at work and enable workers and employees to immediately get access to useful insights. Yet, while CBRS can play a critical role in improving and optimizing any vertical in any industry, one sector where the technology can make a dramatic difference is in education, particularly at the university level.”

CBRS has a number of use cases in higher education, with the most prominent being that a number of districts connected their students to carrier networks using hotspots during the pandemic. But, they found that the hotspots did not have the bandwidth to keep multiple students connected at the same time, and in addition, the districts are now facing huge phone bills from their carriers.

This, along with the adoption of classes that are part in-person and part online, means the use of CBRS can offer schools guaranteed latency & bandwidth for staff, students & logistics, and can eliminate fiber and LAN dependency within campuses.

“CBRS can help greatly enhance the abilities of university transportation as well,” Schwartz said. “With longer ranges, better roaming, and lower latency, CBRS LTE technology can seamlessly deliver mobile connectivity to campus vehicles, allowing students to track when their buses will be arriving and enabling staff to keep in touch with security cars and maintenance vehicles. The innovations possible are limitless!”

“By leveraging CBRS LTE networks, schools and universities can equip their physical campus spaces with better digital capabilities,” Schwartz explained. “Students and teachers can utilize augmented and virtual reality, better video streaming, and smart boards and podiums to make learning more interactive and productive, offering an overall more unique and personalized learning experience for the students. With a neutral host model and federated capabilities, universities can become service providers, and generate revenues by selling services to local businesses, for example, while also improving the quality of service for their faculty, staff, and students – less expensively and more securely.”

With technological innovation only set to continue, new uses for technology in education are sure to be found as well. Universities would be hard pressed not to start investing in the right technology, to create a “smart campus” to keep students, staff, and parents connected, informed, and safe at all times. Now is the time for universities to make their move, as with CBRS availability, the educational institutions can skip the traditional route and design, build, monitor, maintain and manage their own secure, exclusive private high-speed network.

Schwartz will be presenting a keynote on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at the 5G Expo in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Pente Networks is a platinum sponsor of the event, one of the largest, longest-standing, and prestigious telecom and technology events in the world. 5G Expo is part of the IoT Evolution Expo and #TECHSUPERSHOW experience, combining all the innovative technologies shaping business operations today during a week of educations, networking, and exhibit hall opportunities.

Edited by Erik Linask
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