COVID-19 has become a catalyst for education's digital transformation. ISPs make it possible.
The three T’s (telework, telehealth, and tele-education) are fast being expanded upon nationwide. In the process, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has exposed hard realities about the digital divide. It’s time to discuss the coronavirus disruption and how technology can help. New solutions for education could bring much needed innovation, but who’s laying the foundation?
From the standpoint of educational institutions worldwide, COVID-19 has become a catalyst for digital transformation. The slow pace of change in academic institutions with centuries-old, lecture-based approaches to teaching is now starkly challenged with innovative solutions in a relatively short period of time. Students are accessing reading material via Google Classroom, getting used to synchronous face-to-face video instruction, and using online platforms such as Zoom or Blackboard as their virtual classrooms. As such, schools and universities have been and continue to check with their internet service providers (ISPs) in lockstep to ensure enough bandwidth is provided for the millions of online and video-consuming students.
One option to mitigate the capacity problem would be to downgrade everyone to standard definition from HD. In contrast, the other option, as attested by Verizon’s CTO Kyle Malady, is to upgrade. Malady says, “most of my engineers’ time is spent these days on adding capacity and figuring out what tools they’re going to bring to the table to meet that demand.” With the sense of urgency to upgrade networks during these unprecedented events, ISPs want to drive faster towards capacity upgrades, and wireless carriers want to drive even faster towards 5G deployments. As 5G becomes more prevalent in the United States and in other countries, we will see the education sector truly embrace the ‘learning anywhere, anytime’ concept of digital education in a range of formats since the tether of wireless service will eventually vanish.
In bridging this digital divide, the FCC wants to take measures to ensure all Americans have fast internet access, whether through traditional cable or wireline carriers - or via wireless cellular infrastructure so they can work and learn from home. Without stable internet access, families with students and home workers will struggle. When classes transition online, some youth may be left behind because of the cost of digital devices and internet plans. Some of the proposed FCC actions may be:
- Expediting waivers and experimental licenses that will expand network capabilities for wireless providers
- Creating additional wireless ISP capacity by temporarily authorizing the 5.9 GHz band for rural wireless providers
- Awarding grants for capacity upgrades in underserved communities hit hard by COVID-19
- Encouraging ISPs to provide low-cost program options to extend basic internet connections
The brunt of the work falls back to ISPs, to the network operator who’s going to look for a range of fiber options that will increase bandwidth and speed for their customers, including the most critical (and expensive segment) - the access and edge of the provider's plant. With pressures stemming officially from the FCC, ISPs are rushing to scope their infrastructure projects, secure necessary hardware and components, and execute upgrades at an unprecedented pace.
The good news is that ProLabs has the experience and the full suite of certified optical network solutions to support ISPs in this endeavor. Here are the top project upgrades undertaken:
- Access Network Upgrades – Despite years of investment, many access network elements are connected by 1G or lower connections. Simple 1G to 10G upgrades are fast and efficient with our wide range of SFP+ transceivers to CWDM and DWDM fixed and tunable wavelengths, including a full suite of GPON and XGSPON 1G and 10G PON transceivers.
- Maximizing Fiber Infrastructure – 10G tunable SFP+ transceivers are a smart choice that enable ISP subscribers to enjoy higher bandwidth and more efficient use of fiber resources, while simplifying on-site setup. And when the - DWDM transceivers can self-tune, this further reduces costs – as the need for tuning equipment is eliminated as well as the operational complexity and training requirements. ProLabs’ auto-tunable transceivers work at 10G with plug and play deployment, covering all your wavelength needs with no host intervention required. Simply plug into the host device and passive mux, the transceiver does the rest.
- Upgrades from the Edge to the Core – Video conferencing and other synchronous applications are driving upgrades at both the network core and edge. Our wide broad portfolio of 25G SFP28 and 100G transceivers are popular upgrades to keep up with rapidly increasing demands while limiting cost exposure.
- Fiber Connectivity Solutions including WDM mux/demux and fiber patch cables, to connect it all together - ProLabs' test certified fiber patch cables are robustly constructed, ensuring circuit integrity and seamless connectivity. A wide assortment of single mode, multi-mode, and MPO cables are available. View all fiber patch cable options.
Whether supplying ISPs or schools with campus network upgrades, ProLabs is ready to fulfill and offer expert advice and solutions to meet these new bandwidth challenges.
Moreover, ProLabs is Trade Agreements Act (TAA) compliant which means that our products originate from the United States. ProLabs is fully able to supply the government for any General Service Administration (GSA) needs. Learn more about our TAA compliance.
Contact us for more recommendations specific to your network. Our solution experts can help you no matter the project complexity. ProLabs’ offers products that are proudly United States TAA compliant and come with a lifetime warranty.