While COVID has been a big factor in the recent technological disruption of education, it correspondingly exposed the already existing social issue of the digital divide. Did you know that as of 2019 (Pre-covid) over 3 million students in the United States already did not have access to home internet? It was these same students that initially suffered amongst school going entirely remote. Should a student be failed for not having the resources to access their education? Of course not.
As a result of the emerging technology gap, governments across the globe have been distributing relief packages that help fund state, local, and tribal governments navigate. Much of these funds are specifically intended for the use of broadband infrastructure to facilitate remote learning.
Nokia, one of the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturers has been working with “established solution providers” such as Wytec in building privatized networks that are based on proven technology and future-safe industry standards such as 4G/LTE cellular.
Wytec and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) chose Nokia as its technology partner to build a private LTE network for a local underserved school district in Bexar County, Texas. We utilized The Nokia Digital Automation Cloud which provides high-speed internet connectivity and the ability to efficiently process data. Students were able to access this network from home due to an LTE small cell that was strategically placed on a nearby water tower.
One of the primary enablers which made the Bexar County project successful was the use of Citizens Broadband Radio Service ( CBRS ) band. CBRS operates in 3.5-3.7 GHz radio band and provides unlicensed spectrum for commercial use. Before 2019, this band of spectrum was only available to private federal personnel. Now it’s being commonly used to deploy private LTE networks in all public sectors. Here’s what a Nokia executive had said in regards to the spectrum’s impact in the education sector.
“ The CBRS band can be used for LTE and, because it is unlicensed or lightly licensed, it is applicable and affordable for the education sector, too. It provides a unique opportunity for schools and other public facilities, such as libraries and hospitals, to quickly and cost-effectively deploy LTE-based wireless broadband that provides ample coverage and capacity in suburban and unserved urban areas. “ –Art Holguin
To read more on Nokia’s collaborative efforts in bridging the digital divide in education, press here.