Co-Authored with Renee Patton, Global Director of Education at Cisco

Education systems are vastly different all across the globe. While the benefits of 5G will be everywhere, the timing of those benefits will vary. In some countries, 5G will enable new connections at lower costs, allowing more people to leverage technology for basic education. In other countries, it will bring new learning opportunities through augmented reality. Either way you look at it, 5G is going to change the way we live and learn.

Imagine a day in the life of a high school student in a developing country or underprivileged community. He wakes up early and walks a mile to the bus stop, where public transportation drives him forty-five-minutes to school. Once he’s at school, he doesn’t have an internet-connected computer to do research or help him with homework. At the end of the school day, the process starts over again. He wastes more time unproductively commuting and doesn’t have a connection when he gets home. This is the reality for many children around the globe: an inability to connect to the internet, a lot of unproductive time and a resulting lack of innovation.

They say education is the great equalizer, but education is not equal for everybody. With 5G technology, we can bridge the education gap between an inspired student and meeting their educational goals. Now, imagine a day in the life of that same high school student a few years into the future. The city he lives in has invested in 5G, and his life and education have vastly improved…

Students in a 5G-enabled world

Consider Juan, a good kid from a rural community. Because data is now much cheaper and more broadly accessible, Juan’s parents have a mobile data plan for the family through a Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband connection. This means Juan can now check his grades and access his assignments online before school. On the way to school, he is also able to get some studying done on the bus through a mobile access point. Moreover, while on the bus he can share videos and notes with classmates so they can collaborate on the same challenging concepts. Thanks to the high-capacity bandwidth and low latency of 5G, content arrives immediately, and the quality is excellent. By the time Juan arrives at school, he’s ready for what the day might bring.

At school, the chemistry lab is in the basement of one of the biggest buildings in the area. It’s a massive brick edifice and everyone used to complain that you couldn’t get a signal. This year, the school installed WiFi 6 and connected their network securely to their provider’s 5G enterprise service. Now Juan can seamlessly access everything he needs on campus, whether indoors or outdoors.

Later on, Juan’s world history class is taking a field trip to a historic battlefield where students use augmented reality glasses to immerse themselves in the experience while walking around outside. Juan can see what it looked and sounded like when troops were preparing for battle in the 19th century; a much more insightful encounter than simply reading a textbook in class.

5G will make a difference for after school activities. Students like Juan can now access textbooks and assignments online while traveling to and from games and other extracurricular activities. At Juan’s football game, his gear has tiny sensors that allow him to track his progress, distance covered and fatigue throughout the game. After the game, he can access the data from the cloud and work to improve on his performance for the next game. At the end of the night, a wireless video camera can confirm that Juan safely enters the bus and will monitor for any suspicious behavior on the bus.

5G everywhere you are

As Juan’s story shows, 5G is going to change the way we live and learn for the better. Devices will be able to switch between WiFi 6 and 5G seamlessly and securely, so students can access networks in places where 4G LTE wouldn’t previously work. This includes places like the basement of remote buildings on campus, during long trips, or with augmented reality. School campuses and surrounding areas will be safer because providers will be able to monitor security cameras in remote areas.

Learning doesn’t only happen in schools and classrooms. With mobile technology, you can learn anywhere, anytime, through devices that connect you with information, teachers, and other students. Improvements in speed and latency will help students learn no matter where they are or what they’re doing.

5G will bring diverse educational opportunities into places where connections were previously challenging. It has the potential to become a unique bridge between an inspired student and meeting their educational goals.

Find out more about 5G at cisco.com/go/5G.