Five ways 4G LTE technology is driving change in education

By Roger Billings, global solutions architect at Cradlepoint

The rise of education technology – in conjunction with the ever-increasing reliability, performance, agility, and cost-effectiveness of fourth-generation long term evolution (4G LTE) networking – is giving schools the green light to expand their capabilities with new, exciting applications. Wireless Wide Area Networks (WAN) connectivity is no longer a luxury for schools; it is essential.

Here are five ways schools are using wireless WANs to improve the education experience.

1 – School buses

One of the most common and beneficial uses of 4G LTE connectivity for schools is on buses. With an LTE-based mobile networking solution, students travelling to and from school can use the time productively – no more excuses for forgotten homework! Also, studies show that when students have access to wifi on buses, their behaviour improves because they are focusing on educational activities.

4G LTE makes it possible for a bus driver to alert school administrators and/or live stream surveillance footage back to the school when an incident is taking place, improving safety and boosting confidence. Having a mobile router on the bus means the school can automatically offload footage, via wifi, the next time the vehicle is parked up.

Some fleet managers require in-vehicle connectivity to reap insight from rich telematics data, helping cost-efficiencies. For example, it can recognise the arrival and departure times of buses at each stop. By improving the speed of each stop, idling can be reduced and fuel conserved. They also use GPS to keep track of where their buses are at all times. Some schools even offer phone apps that show parents where their child’s bus is at any given time.

2 – Main school building

The drastically differing sizes of school and university buildings call for purpose-built connectivity solutions. In a small building, all-in-one 4G LTE networking might be perfect for multi-WAN connectivity and seamless failover through a single device. On a much larger campus, the IT team might need a branch continuity solution that converts LTE into an ethernet connection, providing ‘four-nines’ uptime.

Digital signage is an increasingly common technology in educational institutions, and not just for the sign in front of the main building. Campuses are beginning to implement digital signage throughout because the messaging can be adjusted remotely, at a moment’s notice. An LTE-enabled IoT router solution makes it easy to place digital signage anywhere on campus without having to extend fibre or ethernet connections to support the sign.

IT teams benefit from solutions that also provide out-of-band management capabilities through the cloud, allowing them to use LTE connectivity to remotely access either a primary router or LAN-connected devices. Remote troubleshooting saves the time and expense of physically sending IT specialists to affected sites.

3 – Temporary classrooms and portables

Temporary classrooms require connectivity for multiple reasons. For instance, at least once a year, many schools and higher education institutions set up makeshift areas for exams in gymnasiums and other large spaces. Many school districts or local authorities are using portables or modular buildings on campus for classroom space to address overcrowding. These buildings are usually connected via the existing infrastructure, but when that is too difficult or time-consuming using a 4G LTE or wifi-as-WAN connection via a mobile router expedites deployment of the portables.

4 – Campus security

To help keep students safe, some schools and universities install cloud-managed IoT solutions to maintain a constant connection to security cameras. In addition, some have their own police force and install mobile routers within their law enforcement vehicles to maintain data and video connectivity between officers, teachers and lecturers.

5 – Special events

Most educational establishments host dozens of special events throughout the year, including sports events, plays, musical performances, and much more. These days the ability to accept credit card payments is essential, so schools need the ability to provide secure and reliable network access for point-of-sale at a moment’s notice.

In conclusion, advanced wireless technology is facilitating change in the education sector. Enhanced connectivity is allowing them to become safer, enabling children to be more productive and ensuring the education experience is the best it can be.