City Wide Private Mobile Network Helps Bridge the Digital Divide

A K-12 school district and county in the US sought to bring technology to every part of its community using Celona's Private LTE/5G wireless.

A K-12 school district and county in the United States sought to bridge the digital divide using the latest LTE/5G technologies from Celona. Their goal was to offer reliable broadband connectivity to students for remote learning purposes with the eventual expansion into public safety and smart community services to further extend quality of life for all residents.

The Challenge

According to a 2021 Federal Communication Commission (FCC) report on broadband deployments throughout the United States, millions of Americans continue to lack access to low-cost and reliable internet broadband services. This is an issue that has created what’s being referred to as a “digital divide” – a gap between those that have access to internet and digital communications services and those that don’t.

In addition, local governments in smaller communities are seeking ways to extend “smart city” technologies throughout their towns and counties with the purpose of enhancing the lives of residents. This could include projects such as community-wide surveillance and computer vision to improve public safety, intelligent air/water quality monitoring and various smart parking, traffic and street lighting systems.

As the need to access internet-connected services continues to grow, the digital divide could potentially leave many smaller communities behind. To solve this problem, local governments are now tasked with finding a solution that provides far-reaching and reliable broadband coverage to all residents in a cost-effective, easy-to-manage package.

The Opportunity

Because residents in smaller communities are more geographically dispersed compared to urbanites, it’s usually not economically feasible to build and operate a community-wide wired network for last-mile broadband connectivity. Instead, wireless technologies are a more realistic solution. Until recently, wireless deployments such as satellite, point-to-point or point-to-multipoint Wi-Fi and microwave have been the only readily-available options. While these types of wireless technology platforms can work in some use-case scenarios, they often fall short when it comes to providing wide-ranging coverage and reliable connectivity with predictable throughput and latency numbers that are required by modern applications.

Fortunately, counties, cities and school districts now have access to the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum that is available for commercial broadband use within the United States. This gives school districts and/or local governments the ability to deploy a private LTE or 5G network that delivers carrier-grade wireless connectivity for any number of educational and public health/safety purposes. The benefits of building your own private mobile network are:

  • Low cost to design, deploy and operate
  • Full control over the network and devices that connect
  • Guaranteed quality of service (QoS) and privacy on a per-app basis
  • Faster return on investment

The Solution

One such K-12 school district and county in the United States chose to bridge the digital divide with technical assistance and expertise from Celona. The proposed solution was to use Celona’s portfolio of CBRS LTE access points, private SIM cards and its cloud-native software platform to serve as the foundation for their county-wide wireless network.

The top priority use-case was to deliver broadband internet services for K-12 student households for educational purposes. Once the Celona private wireless network was strategically deployed to provide the best mix of coverage and performance within the CBRS band 48 spectrum, student households were outfitted with either indoor or outdoor LTE routers that serve as the on-ramp for student connectivity to virtual classroom content and technology. The private mobile network will be invaluable -- especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced many schools to begin offering online educational services as an alternative to in-person learning.

The Future

In the future, the county-deployed and operated Celona private wireless network will be used in other ways that serve the community. One idea is to leverage the wireless network as a reliable form of private voice communication for public safety and governmental purposes. Because Celona uses their patent-pending MicroSlicing™ technology to identify mission-critical network streams such as public safety voice communications, network administrators can easily apply strict QoS guarantees to this traffic – ensuring that voice communication and virtual classroom for students are each appropriately secured and assigned specific service levels for latency and throughput enforcement.

The Timing is Right

Thanks to the recent availability of CBRS wireless spectrum and Celona’s technological advancements in the LTE/5G private wireless network space, smaller communities finally have a last-mile wireless broadband solution. One that rivals wired broadband alternatives from a performance and reliability standpoint at a fraction of the deployment and maintenance cost - and full privacy to the local government organizations that take advantage of it.

With the help of Celona, enabling a smart community in your town, city or county can be accomplished in 5 easy steps:

  1. Work with Celona engineering team the Celona CBRS LTE access point deployment on towers/rooftops
  2. Choose customer premise equipment (CPE) devices required to connect users and devices to the private mobile network
  3. Create security and performance MicroSlicing™ policies to prioritize and secure important data flows
  4. Test against coverage and capacity requirements with a 60-day free trial of the Celona solution
  5. Develop an educational and public service technology ecosystem that can utilize the private mobile network

See the Celona solution in action by tuning in for an on-demand demo, request a custom demo or a free trial. And, to keep in touch with the rest of our community of customers, ecosystem and technology partners, join us at the Frequency Community.

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