Over the past two years, connecting to distance learning became the primary way for students to continue to earn an education due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With social distancing in schools, connectivity became essential for students to learn online. While students in cities and suburbs did not have to worry about their connectivity, those in rural and tribal communities suffered.
During the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that rural and tribal communities in the United States were at a clear disadvantage when it came to connectivity. This disparity was seen most obviously when it came to delivering distance learning to these communities. While students in the suburbs and many cities could connect easily and continue their education, those in rural environments had a challenging time bridging the digital modernization gap.
Traditionally, urban and suburban communities are connected through fiber, which is very fast at the core and under normal operations, but experiences much slower speeds as capacity is added and at the edge. While metropolitan and suburban markets were able to address their challenges quickly, rural markets faced a far more complicated situation. This issue gets exponentially worse the further a community is from a fiber hub in the city and the cost of remediation increases too. In a recent conversation with Government Technology Insider, Todd Theilmann, Director of Sales, SLED, at Federated Wireless, “there are a lot of rural communities that lack adequate bandwidth and capacity capabilities to use the learning tools that teachers are using today, such as video conferencing platforms.”
Theilmann commented that even during the pandemic when students were meant to be socially distanced, students in rural locations, including tribal nations, had to travel for wireless connections since there was not enough signal at home. “This was not sustainable during the pandemic and is certainly not sustainable as we return to more normal times,” shared Theilmann, Remote communities need a solution to bridging the digital modernization gap, to ensure equitable access to education.”
The solution to this challenge was identified at Carnegie Mellon University, explained Theilmann. Here, researchers wanted to evaluate next-generation connectivity that provided reliability, low latency, and cost-effectiveness. With private 4G LTE/5G wireless networks, they could establish connections needed to face remote learning, such as live video streaming and high definition with low latency on heavily trafficked networks. This was unattainable previously on existing LTE and Wi-Fi solutions.
The power of 5G can handle greater capacity and connection at longer ranges. When thinking of a household scenario, Theilmann explained that “a household isn’t just one person doing a single task. There could be five different individuals: one is streaming television, another is browsing the internet, someone is playing games, one can be learning via virtual sessions, and the last can be working from their office and using a VPN. Everyone in the household is creating a capacity challenge to that single link coming into the house.” This load creates the need for an extended connection that 5G can provide.
Private 4G LTE/5G wireless networks can overcome the digital divide for those living in rural communities. By providing stronger connections regardless of distance or load, students in remote communities can connect and learn not only when it’s not possible to meet in person, but also as the need for digital equity grows. As communities adopt new technologies and transform it is essential that the individuals living there can also modernize.
To learn more about private 4G LTE/5G wireless networks, click here.