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Emerging Wireless Technology Trends on Campus – Part 2

By Mike Collado
October 29th, 2013

University of Virginia - Photo Courtesy of afagen

In our previous post, we suggested that there is no environment more challenging than the college campus for wireless communications because the two key stakeholders appear to have diverging interests.

You’ve got students who, as the first generation of smartphone and table users, consume enormous amounts of bandwidth.

Today, we examine the other stakeholder – the college or university – that is, in all likelihood, contending with shrinking budgets and a loss of revenue from landlines and computer labs that were once a profit center not long ago.

Spikes In Demand As Traditional Funding Decreases

As schools experience this rapid increase in demand, funding for necessary improvements and updates decreases.

Historically, technology infrastructure on campuses has been partially funded through student landline use and/or dorm room cable service. Students have all but migrated toward mobile smart phones and tablets, and away from landline and cable services.

As a result, funding from those sources, used in the past to pay for much-needed technological improvements, is drying up.

Therefore, the challenges schools face today are not just based in technology; they are financial, tied to the search for funding sources to cover upgrades and transformations.

To address these challenges colleges and universities must install multipurpose networks that are easy to deploy and manage.

These multipurpose networks must be flexible and scalable to accommodate growth and change.

And, they must lower costs, through CAPEX or OPEX efficiencies, or through the creation of new revenue stream opportunities.

In the past, one way to solve cellular communications problems has been to employ a “spray and pray” approach — put up an antenna at the highest point, and hope for the best.

However, today customers upload more content than they download, and the bulk of cellular traffic occurs indoors, so macro networks cannot efficiently service users in high density areas.

Given the tremendous increase in usage, it is necessary to build networks from the “inside-out” to compliment the macro network approach of “outside-in.”

Next Post: Distributed Antenna Systems & Funding Scenarios

Note: A version of this article was originally published in 2013 Fall ACUTA Journal.

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