In the world of transportation, communities across the globe are busy deciding how to upgrade road systems in order to prepare for the driverless revolution. The aim is to reduce congestion, speed up overall traffic flow, increase capacity and safety. Much of this is driven by population increases and the introduction of connected vehicles. Urban planners are required to update their back-end communication and signal control systems, widen streets or add new road connections in order to accommodate growth.
In the digital networking world, it’s no different – especially for data and device-hungry educational institutions – which are trying to stay ahead of the ongoing digital transformation.
With more and more devices per user, integration of IoT devices, and the ever-increasing demand for digital content (for personal and academic consumption of digital learning material), educational institutions are under immense pressure to deliver best-possible digital experiences for their students in order to remain competitive. It has been predicted that within the next 12 years classrooms will become entirely digital. With the introduction of digital whiteboards and tablets on the increase, we can see this transformation happening already.
Many moons ago when we were at school we had to visit the computer lab to use a BBC Microcomputer or RM Nimbus. Nowadays, students as young as 4 or 5 expect to be able to use a tablet device which is infinitely more powerful as part of their lessons. In a few years’ time you can expect each child in a class to have their own laptop, tablet/eReader, smart-watch, VR/MR goggles and other connected devices. The bottom line is that today’s student does not believe that he or she should have to ask for sufficient Wi-Fi to do whatever he or she wants. Students simply expect it to be there. In a few years’ time students are simply going to expect WiFi to be available in the educational environment. If it isn’t, their educational experience is going to suffer.
For schools the real impact won’t be seen for the next five to ten years. However, for colleges and universities they need to be preparing right now.
Wi-Fi 6 will be the standard expectation for many wireless refresh projects. Until now, 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) capabilities have been sufficient for most educational uses but the technology needs to evolve to keep up with future demands.
Development of the WiFi 5 (802.11ac) standards began in 2008 (a year after the first iPhone was released) The ratified IEEE specifications where published in 2013 (when iPhone 5 was released). That may not seem too long ago, but so much has changed since then. Educational institutions need to prepare for the changes that are coming in the next few years. The connected classroom will be a reality and institutions of any size are going to require an infrastructure that will allow them to cope. Colleges and universities are already noticing the introduction of the first wave of Wi-Fi 6 devices which entering their campuses.
According to recent research by IDC, by 2025, more than 150 billion devices across the globe will be connected, and of those nearly half will be IoT devices. This development, which will impact educational institutions as much or more than other industries, means increased stress on IT departments. In addition, it requires proactive planning for network infrastructures, administrative management capabilities, and privacy/security policy implementations.
There are certain areas within educational institutions which are already experiencing bottlenecks.
Since students expect that Wi-Fi should be free and accessible everywhere, schools, colleges and universities are evaluating how to add capacity to areas once considered unnecessary or secondary. Public venues, especially canteens and outdoor spaces between buildings previously considered “non-academic” are now added to the list of essential coverage points in order to deliver consistent experiences.
Whether your IT department is just testing the waters or is planning to install a connected infrastructure in stages, Wi-Fi 6 is promising to provide better experience for all users across your campus.GGR has worked with a number of educational institutions for the last few years to help them introduce the most appropriate IT infrastructure. Use the form below today and one of our experienced consultants can help you understand how to prepare your systems to accommodate your growing needs over the next few years?