Ed-tech companies promote money-saving solutions

To help schools and other nonprofit organizations save on internet access, Providence, R.I.-based Mobile Beacon provides 4G mobile internet service at a dramatically reduced rate.

Mobile Beacon’s broadband assistance grant program helps schools receive unlimited use of the company’s 4G wireless service for just $10 per month, paid annually in advance ($120 for the year), plus the cost of the devices used to connect to the network. Mobile Beacon also offers free support services, including assistance in developing an implementation strategy, and free technical support seven days a week.

As for less expensive Wi-Fi service, Ruckus Wireless says it offers schools “smarter, superior Wi-Fi that works.” The company says its wireless routers are less expensive than the equipment from Cisco Systems and other large providers—while providing highly reliable wireless coverage at the same time.

Ruckus’s technology includes patented “smart antenna arrays” in every wireless access point. As a laptop user moves around, any of 19 antennae inside the access point can move to follow the signal, Ruckus says—resulting in a more flexible and reliable wireless connection. This means schools can deploy a Wi-Fi network using fewer access points to get the same degree of coverage.

“To see if the Ruckus ZoneFlex system lived up to the hype, we performed extensive capacity testing and were astounded,” said Joseph McBreen, chief information officer for the St. Vrain Valley School District, in a promotional brochure. “We were able to connect 78 concurrent devices to a single, dual-band 802.11a [access point] without the AP breaking a sweat. Each laptop, iPhone, and tablet device was simultaneously streaming video. … We’ve now deployed some 1,000 APs across 43 sites and have never been more satisfied.”

Another Wi-Fi product that could save schools money is Motorola’s AP6511 802.11n wallplate access point, which allows a wireless LAN to be installed in minutes as opposed to hours, the company says.

Many older school buildings were built before internet access existed, and installation of wireless access points can be complicated, Motorola explains. This wallplate-based access point can be installed using existing CAT5/6 cabling in the wall.

eSchool News Staff

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