Enabling Communities to Form Lasting Connections

For many, the need to connect is becoming as vital as food and water. Over three billion people and counting are connecting to family, friends and colleagues via voice, video, text, email and social media. In order to keep these communications channels robust, service providers are upgrading or laying down a superhighway of networks that can facilitate Gigabit speeds.

Over the past year, ADTRAN has seen communities all over the country begin to prioritize Gigabit services as the underlying infrastructure for economic growth. Ultra-fast broadband allows easier streaming, better connectivity and the bandwidth to support all types of mobile devices. This change is creating a foundation for how humans communicate today, and how future generations communicate down the road.

ADTRAN is committed to providing the infrastructure for uninterrupted global connectivity, so it’s easy to see why we have teamed up to support Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel and their exciting community transformation initiative, America’s Best Communities. As a mentor for the City of Valparaiso, Indiana, ADTRAN will utilize the expertise gained from our Enabling Communities, Connecting Lives (ECCL) program, and link it to the initiative’s goal of helping communities realize their aspirations in leveraging technology to transform the way they live, work and play.

The city of Valparaiso is home to just over 30,000 residents, and to Valparaiso University, which accommodates roughly 4,500 students a year. With nearly two dozen K-12 schools, a cultural center, museums, theaters and shopping centers, the community is brimming with excitement about being named a quarterfinalist in the competition. The partnership between ADTRAN and Valparaiso will compliment the high level of civic engagement already found in the city by local businesses and residents. The America’s Best Communities competition is helping bring the community together as it jumpstarts economic development and reinvestment in rural America.

Supporting Frontier’s America’s Best Communities is essentially an extension of our ECCL program. Both aim to transform business and residential communities by enabling economic development and overall growth. We’ve been lucky to see firsthand how communities experience significant growth thanks to enhanced technology infrastructure. As a program partner, we expect Valparaiso to experience similar results.

If you’re unfamiliar with Frontier’s America’s Best Communities program, ADTRAN is joining several other corporate partners to mentor one of the 50 quarterfinalist communities as they move through the final stages of the contest. With $10 million on the table, the stakes are high in developing unique and innovative programs. Fifteen semifinalists will be selected in January 2016 to present their plans at the America’s Best Communities summit. Eight finalists will then receive additional funding to bring the project to life. The top three winners—those with the most innovative and effective proposals—will be announced in April 2017.

Gary Bolton is Vice President, Global Marketing at ADTRAN

Permanent link to this article: http://connect.adtran.com/enabling-communities-to-form-lasting-connections/


Using Wi-Fi in an innovative way in the classroom? Send us a video!

Wi-Fi in today’s classroom is as common as the chalkboard and the familiar rows of desks.  Students are eager to take advantage of new forms of learning that are more in tune with their digital upbringing. Educators are looking to new digital resources – online testing, flipped classroom learning or YouTube EDU – as a means of creating a more dynamic and engaged learning environment for their students. Wi-Fi networks are enabling schools, administrators, teachers and students to connect, communicate and learn in ways they have never done before.

As the school year winds down across the country, ADTRAN is celebrating with a contest to see which classroom is using Wi-Fi in the most innovative way.

If you think your classroom has gone above and beyond in terms of using Wi-Fi, then it’s time to take the ADTRAN Ed Tech Challenge!  Prizes for top videos will include an iPad Mini and Apple TVs.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3 to enter:

  1. Create a video showing how you are using Wi-Fi in your classroom and submit it online to our entry page
  2. Once you’ve submitted your entry, post it to YouTube, Twitter and/or Facebook with a title and include the hashtag #EdTechChallenge
  3. Get as many people as possible to “Like” and retweet your video including the hashtag #EdTechChallenge. We will use a combination of public voting (total number of “Likes” on Facebook and YouTube and retweets on Twitter) and an ADTRAN panel of judges to determine the winners!

The contest closes July 15, so don’t wait, get your videos in today.

Permanent link to this article: http://connect.adtran.com/using-wi-fi-in-an-innovative-way-in-the-classroom-send-us-a-video/


LAN Switch Considerations for VoIP–– Part 1: Understanding Voice over IP

So you’ve decided to upgrade to Voice over IP (VoIP), whether that’s a shiny new IP PBX to replace your old key system or moving your phone system to a cloud-hosted VoIP or Unified Communications service provider. The next question on your mind should be: is my network ready for VoIP? Seems like a redundant question – if I have a network, VoIP should work since voice is just another application on my data network.

Wrong! Over 90% of VoIP deployments are delayed or stalled because “the network is not ready.” A sobering statistic that can put a damper on all the benefits you were expecting from your new VoIP system. But there’s hope. In this series of blogs on LAN Switch considerations for VoIP, we will go into how selecting and deploying the right network infrastructure can ensure a smooth and successful VoIP deployment.

In this first blog, we will look into the unique characteristics of VoIP, the challenges of delivering voice quality and the role played by the LAN switch in the overall user experience with VoIP.

Why is voice different from other applications on the LAN?

VoIP (whether that’s voice calls or video conferences) has three essential characteristics that distinguish it from other applications on the LAN:

  1. Real-time: Voice and video communications are real-time applications unlike other applications, such as e-mail, Web browsing, Facebook, Twitter or other social media applications. Voice is also a two-way communication with both all parties involved interacting in real-time.
  2. No Guarantee: Surprise! VoIP has no guarantees of delivery. Other applications have a method for retransmission – e-mail continues to retransmit until delivered, Web pages can be refreshed, but voice packets are not retransmitted or guaranteed to be delivered.
  3. Compared with POTS: Legacy phone communications have set expectations among users about always-on, real-time communications. Even when there’s a disaster or power goes out, the expectation is the phone will work.

What are the challenges of delivering VoIP?

Voice is an application that’s constantly contending for priority on the LAN. Let’s look at some of the things that voice encounters in the LAN:

  1. Multicast storms: Multicast traffic is a form of communications that is common in enterprises and many industries that use multimedia content delivery networks. IP multicast is used for IPTV distribution in hotels, the retail sector uses IP multicast to push in-store video advertising and even campus networks use IP multicast to deliver operating system images for multiple locations.
  2. Denial of Service (DoS): DoS is commonly associated with external DoS attacks or hacking, but DoS can happen within the LAN. Windows updates or “patch Tuesday” can cause network slowdowns. Scheduled virus scans can cause applications to behave erratically on the network, and voice as a real-time application experiences the greatest impact.
  3. Spanning Tree Network Loops: How many times have you been on a conference call or Webinar and the conference bridge suddenly drops? This happens as the spanning tree in the switch resets itself to create a new network configuration for one connection, but it impacts everyone. This may not affect your work on a PC but it’s very noticeable on the voice network.

What Role Does the Switch Play in VoIP?

The LAN switch plays two key roles with respect to VoIP:

  1. Traffic Cop: The switch essentially acts as a traffic cop, identifying and prioritizing traffic, and also providing dedicated lanes to ensure network traffic flows smoothly without interruptions.
  2. Power source: The LAN switch also provides power to endpoints, such as the IP Phones. Switches with PoE provide the necessary network power for IP phones, allowing for centralized power management and improved energy efficiency.

In summary, we’ve seen that voice is a real-time application, with no guarantees of delivery and high user expectations. Voice is constantly contending for priority on the LAN. And the switch plays a central role in the overall experience with VoIP.

That begs the question: won’t any switch work for VoIP? We’ll answer that and more in part 2 of this blog series.


To learn more on this topic, view the on-demand Webinar Top Three LAN Switch Considerations When Deploying VoIP.


Samir Kakkar is product manager for ADTRAN’s Enterprise Networks Division

Permanent link to this article: http://connect.adtran.com/lan-switch-considerations-for-voip-part-1-understanding-voice-over-iplan-switch-considerations-for-voip-part-1-understanding-voice-over-ip/


Should I outsource my school’s Wi-Fi network?

Picking up from our last discussion around cloud wireless, let’s take a look at the specifics around when a school district should move forward with either an on-premises or managed Wi-Fi solution.

The Wi-Fi market is continuing to see incredible growth, with it projected to reach $6.7B by 2018, per Dell’Oro Group.  Nowhere is this growth more profound than in the education market. School systems are continuing to roll out new BYOD and 1:1 Computing programs, resulting in more mobile devices on the network, putting an incredible strain on both infrastructure and IT staff.

Schools need a top performing wired and wireless network for high bandwidth applications like YouTube in classrooms and cloud applications such as Moodle or Blackboard.  They also require centralized user and security policy administration to support learning initiatives from online testing to flipped classrooms and beyond.  Finally, there needs to be quick resolution to connectivity issues for staff and students.  Any downtime can result in lost productivity and frustrated students and teachers.

With all this in mind, when does it make sense for a school district to make the switch from an in-house Wi-Fi solution to a managed offering?  Key to this decision is to ask the following questions:

  • Single-site, Multi-site, and Multi-tenant Facilities – does the district have difficulty managing multiple buildings?
  • Wireless network expansion driven by BYOD – is the district able to keep pace with the number of new devices coming onto the network?
  • Limited IT resources – does the district have enough resources to manage the network?
  • Day-to-day maintenance/management – if the staff is limited, would districts benefit from offloading IT burdens and augment their existing resources to focus on what they do best—serve their students and faculty?
  • Wi-Fi Security – does the IT staff have real-time and historical reports and trends into network health, users, connected devices, capacity and usage? Can they make informed decisions on network investments to improve the user experience?

Critical to all of these questions is making sure the district also has the flexibility to go from an outsourced model to bringing management back in-house – especially, knowing that E-rate funding has no guarantee year after year. Also, most school districts do not want to get locked into a long term subscription model.

Schools that receive E-rate funding this year and choose ADTRAN ProCloud Wi-Fi need not worry about leveraging their Wi-Fi investment in the future, since they have the ability to bring the solution in-house via Bluesocket vWLAN and manage it themselves – when and if they are ready.

A school system’s first priority is students. Giving them an education that facilitates long term academic success while instilling confidence and critical thinking skills requires a modern curriculum and a dependable network. That’s why the network solution needs to be one that enriches this experience and puts learning above all.

Be sure to visit ADTRAN at the upcoming CoSN 2015 conference in Atlanta from March 16-19 to gain a better understanding of managed Wi-Fi and its benefits to advancing K-12 goals and initiatives.

Jason King is the director of marketing for the Bluesocket Business Group at ADTRAN. With over 15 years’ experience in the industry, he is responsible for the overall promotion and positioning of the company’s Wi-Fi solutions. Find him on Twitter <em>@jjking24


Permanent link to this article: http://connect.adtran.com/should-i-outsource-my-schools-wi-fi-network/


A Flexible Approach to Wi-Fi for E-rate

The meteoric rise of smartphones and tablets combined with the transition from desktop computers to laptops are putting substantial strain on Wi-Fi networks at today’s school districts. Not only are more devices connecting to these networks but students and faculty expect to remain always on and are increasingly streaming media and other high bandwidth applications in classrooms.
With the new funding for E-rate making the news, school districts are looking to take advantage of this program to build out a world class wireless network for their students and staff.
The demand for more bandwidth, more real-time multimedia and access to e-textbooks and educational applications, such as Moodle and Blackboard, all via Wi-Fi, means that any drop in performance is immediately noticeable by users. In addition, as schools migrate from a primarily wired infrastructure to a wireless one, the growth in devices on the network also highlights a need for additional security.
IT staff at school districts have been trying to keep up with user needs and expectations but the requirements are evolving fast. Today’s IT needs to be faster, more nimble, handle many devices, provide tighter security, scale quickly and be cost effective. To achieve this, a new approach needs to be taken to the problem.

The traditional Wi-Fi architecture has been based upon a controller-based switch that becomes the central point of intelligence and control for all access points (AP’s). The controller becomes the choke point and bottleneck for the network, requiring IT to add more controllers as inevitably more users and devices come onto the network.
This traditional architecture has been replaced by a Cloud Wireless design where the controller is eliminated, with management annd control of the network virtualized in the cloud. This approach greatly increases the ability to scale the network to meet Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) demands, with the ability to support a factor of 10X more devices than before.
The Cloud Wireless approach has also opened up the possibility of educational institutions taking advantage of a managed and hosted service for their Wi-Fi network, offloading routine network management burden from their strapped IT staff.
With so many choices for today’s K-12 IT staff when it comes to their wireless network and mobility needs, there are several questions that come to mind:
• Should I opt for a hosted/managed service vs. managing it on-site?
• Should I go with 802.11n or 802.11ac?
• What kind of back-end switching network do I need?
• What kind of security do I need to ensure privacy mandates?
• And on and on the list goes…
We will dive into these issues in later posts. The key point is as IT managers wade through all the options to pick the right wireless solution for their situation, they need to ensure their network will be able to stand up to the demanding needs of their users.

Permanent link to this article: http://connect.adtran.com/a-flexible-approach-to-wi-fi-for-e-rate/

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