At New York City’s Global Citizen Festival last week, communications giant, Verizon, announced a new 5G Expansion initiative for public schools as part of its Innovative Learning Initiative. While this looming next leap in mobile tech is still not quite ready for prime time, Verizon believes that schools, especially underfunded schools, should be a priority.
This initiative, which has already been deployed in 152 schools throughout the United States, works hard to ensure that students have enough Chromebooks, iPads, and 4G LTE connectivity. Justina Nixon-Saintil, Verizon director of corporate social responsibility, said, “We wanted to go beyond that, and make sure our students also have access to emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and virtual reality, technologies that can really leverage and harness the power of 5G.”
The initiative is a follow-up on Verizon’s 5G EdTech Challenge from last fall, when the company called on nonprofits and academic institutions to create content for a 5G network. Verizon hopes that the new technologies will better engage students and support their academic achievement. A slew of solutions has already come out of the challenge, including virtual reality and augmented reality projects that can teach students history and science.
Verizon calls its cutting-edge classrooms “Innovation Labs” and uses them to pioneer the academic deployment of such technologies as AR/VR headsets, Internet of Things (IoT) manipulatives, and 3D printers. The 5G deployment will begin in the Innovation Labs, and thereafter spread throughout the school buildings, and beyond. Verizon hopes that launching the new technologies in underfunded schools will help narrow the technology gap that plagues disadvantaged communities.
The state of 5G
Verizon currently supports 5G mobile network access in 13 cities as far afield as New York, Cleveland, and Panama City. It plans a massive commercial launch for 5G in 2019, which will require the investment of $17 billion to $18 billion. While all major carriers currently support some level of 5G networking and make 5G phones, the status of the new mobile technology is still in its opening phases.
5G is the next step in mobile technology. 2G was considered the first major step, allowing phone calls but no mobile web access. 3G and 4G enabled progressively greater access to the internet, ultimately supporting video streaming and the app economy. 5G promises much lower latency, allowing phones to support augmented reality and virtual reality, and possibly lead to the replacement of smartphones with glasses, watches, and other high-tech accoutrements.
Keeping Up with Advancing Technology
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