By Dr. Mehmet Yavuz, CTO and co-founder, Celona.
Up until the last few years, educational institutions had very little need for predictable and highly reliable wireless connectivity, and it had almost no need for secure outdoor wireless connectivity. If expensive and costly wired infrastructure didn’t reach, those areas simply went unserved.
Today, there are myriad reasons to supply outdoor wireless connectivity, not least of which would be the current pandemic, but also to supply connectivity beyond students to include everything from Wi-Fi backhaul on campus shuttles to video surveillance and even to connect parking meters. Many IT departments attempted to make this work with expansive dense Wi-Fi networks, but these networks are incapable of delivering the reliability and security required by some if not all of the critical applications.
This is now changing with the availability of unlicensed wireless spectrum via the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum recently approved by the FCC. Now, campus IT departments finally have a viable solution to reduce costs while addressing constantly changing connectivity and application performance requirements. CBRS-based private mobile networks can now provide educational institutions with the unprecedented coverage and reliability that cellular wireless is designed to deliver.
A new type of connectivity for new applications
For the last two decades, “wireless” in an education IT setting meant either the deployment of Wi-Fi infrastructure or the use of public cellular network services operated by large public carriers. The innovation and introduction of private mobile networks changes everything.
These networks are similar to the public LTE and 5G networks in their form and function but are deployed just like a Wi-Fi network that a school owns and operates itself. But unlike Wi-Fi, these networks use the unlicensed CBRS spectrum band between 3.55-3.7Ghz and can be used by educational institutions of all kinds to give them their very own LTE or 5G network, with full control and data ownership. This is something that, until now, hasn’t been possible.
Just as Wi-Fi is considered an essential technology that should be owned by the education IT department, so too will private mobile networks. The applications in which this technology is well-suited are simply the kind that education IT will consider mission-critical and want total and complete control over.