On July 11th, 2014, the FCC approved a proposal to revamp the E-Rate program by the beginning of the 2015-16 school years. A critical element of the change is in funding. The E-Rate program is changing their emphasis on what will receive funding in upcoming years. One particular area that E-Rate will be increasing funding is in WiFi technology within the schools and libraries. In changing their focus, the FCC plans to fund the new initiative by reducing spending on some of the traditional areas such as phones and pagers.
In summary, E-Rate will be allocating more money for WiFi projects in the upcoming funding cycles. This E-Rate initiative aligns with most school districts’ initiatives for providing students IPads and Chromebooks for both the consumption of curriculum and for certain required testing.
At its core, WiFi is nothing more than a wireless system that emulates a wired Ethernet network. The difference being, instead of joining a device to the network by way of a patch cord and an Ethernet port, a network connection is established by way of a radio signal from a device’s wireless card connecting to a wireless access point.
As in all computer system implementations – the proper design and installation is critical to ensuring that the user experience is acceptable. In a wireless world, it becomes a bit more complex. Since the data is carried as a radio signal, physical and electrical interferences will greatly impact the quality of the connection. There are three key variables that must be addressed in properly designing and implementing an effective wireless network:
- Coverage area
- Traffic concentration or user density in an area
- Type of traffic (voice, video, music, standard computer transactions, etc.)
In order to build an effective wireless network, the above three variables need to be defined and a survey of the target facility needs to be conducted. A survey will create an overlay or representation of the wireless signal which will accommodate the required area of coverage, the density requirements and address having adequate bandwidth to support the applications. The signal overlay representation, also referred to as a heat map, is also invaluable for adding to or changing the wireless infrastructure at a future date.
Digicorp WiFi Promotion
Digicorp will conduct a survey of the school’s wireless needs and conduct a wireless coverage/density survey of the school. The cost of this survey will depend upon the size of the school. The money spent on this survey will be credited back to the customer in increments of $250 of credit for every $5,000 of equipment or services purchased.
- School questionnaire which determines coverage areas, coverage density and applications.
- On site wireless survey.
- System design floor plan with recommended WAP locations and a wireless signal overlay.
- System bill of materials for submission to USAC funding.