3 considerations to ensure a future-proof network

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Key points:

In 2024, Wi-Fi and wired networks are critical infrastructure for educational organizations. Thanks to the continuous push for digitally literate students and interactive, immersive, and connected eLearning environments, chief technology officers (CTOs) are responsible for networks that must support greater demand than ever before.

There are three top technologies for school district CTOs to consider when planning for the health and longevity of their wired and Wi-Fi networks. Addressing these three key areas–video collaboration, the 6GHz migration, and network automation–will prepare networks to meet the needs of today’s and future students.

Optimize video collaboration for seamless connectivity

Video collaboration applications place substantial demands on networks because they use real-time data. If networks are unreliable, even with intermittent problems, video applications will take a hit. When this software is used to support virtual learning and to supplement classroom instruction, it must operate smoothly and without interruption.

Problems can result in teachers being forced to adapt lesson plans on the fly, students not receiving complete instructions, or learning goals being missed. This can lead to frustration in the classroom.

CTOs want the best for their students. Prioritizing network designs that support video collaboration is one way to ensure the best is always possible. This takes:

  • Complete network and application visibility.
  • Proactive alerts before issues affect end users.
  • Video collaboration testing of key end-to-end metrics to determine how capable a network is of supporting video platforms.

A best practice is to work with one or more solutions that will deliver these capabilities automatically. This reduces the burden for IT teams and ensures that all analytics are delivered consistently and continuously. Once CTOs know how a network is performing and what demand it is under, leaders can make the most effective use of their resources and design a network that reliably delivers video collaboration support.

6GHz and Wi-Fi 6E for next generation technologies

6E devices and the 6GHz spectrum they operate in provide the following benefits for schools:

  • Lower latency across the board and instantaneous network responses for real time applications.
  • Faster data rates and designated bandwidth for users for improved user experience.
  • Reduced network overcrowding due to 6E devices not using the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands.

While the adoption of Wi-Fi 6E, the 6GHz frequency band, and the significant improvements these technologies can deliver are exciting, there are important strategies for CTOs to keep in mind as they prepare for the upgrade.

This is the first time in over a decade that a new frequency band has been made available. There could be members of a CTO’s professional team who have never participated in an adoption like this. It’s important to remember that there’s no rush, these technologies aren’t going anywhere, and a school district can’t be transformed overnight–nor does it need to be. Moving forward at a pace that makes the most sense for your district, making changes where they will have the most benefit first, testing for interoperability issues–all of this will ensure the adoption is seamless, delivering the best ROI possible.

CTOs’ teams must be able to:

  • Analyze end user metrics to predict which schools or school areas need the upgrade first.
  • Redesign AP deployment to better provide 6GHz connectivity.
  • Analyze network performance to ensure redesigns don’t cause roaming issues.
  • Continuously manage all possible security risks – a possibility during any transition.
  • Compare network performance before and after the transition to ensure the desired benefits are delivered.
  • Watch and analyze three frequency bands (2.4, 5, and 6GHz) 24/7.

CTOs who bring these capabilities onboard will personalize the transition process, ensuring the most rewarding experience for their unique schools.

Network automation for improved, worry-free performance

Ultimately, CTOs need to provide complete assurance that both wired, and Wi-Fi networks are reliable and optimized at all times. AI-driven network automation solutions provide this assurance. These solutions automatically detect, notify, and mitigate wired and Wi-Fi network problems using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Here’s why they are a major trend for educational institutions. They support:

  • Connectivity for eLearning, online assessments, and emerging technologies with:
    • Constant, real-time monitoring and analysis of network behavior.
    • Automated historical analytics for long-term performance trends.
    • End user experience metrics so CTOs know whether the network is meeting educational needs.
    • Wired and Wi-Fi network tests.
  • Reduced network downtime and fewer network issues thanks to:
    • Proactive identification of existing and potential wired and Wi-Fi network issues.
    • Elimination of network mysteries through the identification of the root cause of issues.
    • Automatic alerts to IT for all issues.
  • Supported educators and staff because solutions:
    • Scale cost effectively, supporting hundreds to thousands of devices.
    • Provide remote, automated troubleshooting to cut down on travel for IT.
    • Deliver future-proofed optimization (if vendor agnostic).

Work with network automation solutions to restore time and energy to IT professionals and take the complexity out of network optimization.

Future-proofing the best way

School districts in 2024 are ready to be transformed by technology and reliable, optimized wired and Wi-Fi networks. CTOs that use automation, AI, and machine learning to understand their users’ needs and network behavior will support seamless connectivity and improved learning across their districts.

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