Today’s students, teachers, and administrative staff are facing unprecedented connectivity challenges as the 2020 school year brings more and more distance learning options. School districts’ commitment to the “no child left behind” mission takes on a new meaning with today’s technology and learning formats, as students must now have access to reliable, secure internet service in order to access all their educational opportunities. Such connectivity is now a requirement for all distance learning solutions currently being used, including e-campus portals and learning management solution platforms.

Students who don’t have access to high-quality internet service are at significant disadvantage compared to their connected peers. Furthermore, students who need to visit their school campus or other public facilities in order to obtain access to reliable connectivity risk exposure to COVID-19.

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Today, more than 9 million students lack proper access to reliable broadband internet at home, which creates obstacles for both the students and teachers. This, coupled with potential learning disabilities, households with multiple students and parents or guardians with language barriers, creates unprecedented challenges for the industry.

Shared spectrum initiatives as the answer

In January 2020, the FCC authorized commercial use of Citizen Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) connectivity, an initiative that broadly opens the use of the 3.5 GHz spectrum band for shared public and private use. This enables commercial users — e.g. school districts — to leverage a vast amount of invaluable underutilized mid-band spectrum. It provides a cost-effective and high-performance connectivity solution to make uncompromised 4G LTE- and 5G-quality connectivity readily available for education buildings, school campuses and district networks.

About the Author:

Alan Ewing is the Executive Director of the CBRS Alliance. Alan has over 25 years working in telecom and technology standardization with over 15 years of that time at Nokia. He has extensive experience in working with different industry associations and Standards Development Organizations including: Bluetooth SIG, WiFi Alliance, NFC Forum, ETSI, CTIA and many others. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee.