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How Fiber-Deep Networks Can Carry Higher Education Into the Future

By Gayla Arrindell
Published: May 5, 2021

Even before the pandemic, U.S. colleges and universities were experiencing a digital transformation.

Driven at first by a generation of digital-native students – who use mobile devices for education much more than students even a decade ago – the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this change, most notably through remote learning.

While this transformation is still in its early stages, technology will dramatically reshape higher education, and institutions need to invest now to “future proof” their offerings.

The Changing Higher Education Landscape

Expect applications like virtual reality, which is now largely associated with gaming, to reinvent the classroom experience. For example, students in the UK used Immersion VR’s 360VR application to walk through the ruins of Roche Abbey. In fact, Goldman Sachs predicts there to be 15 million VR users in the education industry by 2025, and both educators and students increasingly welcome this technology in classrooms.

Like remote work, remote learning is now mainstream. Even with more students returning to campus this fall, remote education is not going away. According to one study, 33% of post-secondary schools intend to offer remote course options even after their campuses reopen.

As 5G and Wi-Fi6 roll out across the country, colleges and universities should leverage the huge bandwidth these networks provide to create new, digitally rich offerings for their students.

What Fiber-Deep Networks Can Enable Now

The potential uses for optical fiber networks in colleges and universities are vast, but some use cases stand out in the near-term:

Connected classrooms and labs – Classroom learning is increasingly connected and collaborative. Research labs work in real-time with colleagues all over the globe, and students increasingly bring their laptops into the classroom. One Corning client installed an audio/visual system during the pandemic in a primary classroom, so students could attend the class from different parts of the campus in order remain socially distant and safe.

Accommodating students’ digital expectations, everywhere – Students increasingly expect wireless not just in classrooms, but also in their dorm rooms and across campus. Their learning, communication, and entertainment increasingly require heavy bandwidth. (A 2018 study from Pearson showed that Gen Z prefer learning from YouTube or other apps than from books.)

Security – Robust wireless communication both inside and outside campus buildings is critical for campus security. Blue emergency light boxes have enabled robust emergency communication at many schools, and enhanced in building cellular networks ensure that people inside buildings can communicate with emergency responders – and that responders can communicate with each other.

Wired stadiums – When college sports stadiums were initially built, no one imagined that game attendees would insist on sharing their experiences in real time to people far away via their smartphones. New networks can enable this without the latency fans experience at most stadiums now.

What Corning Is Doing Now, and How Our Technology Can Help You

It’s tantalizing to imagine how virtual reality, augmented reality, edge computing, IoT and other technologies will transform higher education. Fiber-deep networks are what will enable them all.

We’ve already helped colleges and universities become more future—ready through our network solutions like Everon™ In Building Cellular and Everon™ Fiber to the Edge Horizontal LAN solution SD LAN. Texas A&M’s Kyle Field network was built using a fiber-to-the-edge Everon™ 3000 (formerly Corning ONE™) distributed antennae system (DAS), enabling attendees to stream video of live events in real time. A large university medical campus in the Rockies also implemented the fiber-to-the-edge Everon™ 3000 DAS, knowing they will have a future-ready infrastructure and there will be minimum disruption when 5G and Private LTE are added. Lastly, a major Western Canadian university implemented the Corning SDLAN solution with composite Actifi™ cable and remote power that helped them become a net-zero carbon building.

Whatever your needs, our network offerings can help your college or university prepare for tomorrow’s technology, today. To learn more, visit our SD LAN page.


Gayla Arrindell is a 23-year leader with an excellent mix of international and corporate level sales, marketing and business development experience in the Telecommunications Industry.

She previously led the 3M Communications Markets Division (CMD) Business Units for Wireline, Wireless, and Structured Cabling. Since the acquisition of 3M CMD by Corning Optical Communications in June 2018, Gayla joined the Corning In-Building Networks team as a Global Market Development Director and is a strong advocate for change in the way smart building networks are designed and implemented.

She is a member of the TIA Smart Buildings working group and a director of Passive Optical LAN. Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Gayla now resides in Austin Texas.


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