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Managed Wi-Fi Eases School Connectivity Challenges

Leading up to Enterprise Connect Orlando 2015, No Jitter podcaster Guy Clinch has been talking to attendees and participants to give a little preview of what to expect at the show. The latest interview is with Chris Davis, who is in charge of demand generation and lifecycle marketing at Windstream Communications, an advanced network services company.

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In the podcast, Clinch and Davis discussed a number of developments taking place at Windstream, from the company's IP phone solutions to its managed Wi-Fi service, E-Rate program and, of course, what to expect from it at Enterprise Connect. If you're interested in hearing all the latest news from Windstream, give the podcast a listen.

Most notable, in my opinion, is Windstream's recent announcement to make its managed Wi-Fi service available to E-Rate-eligible schools and public libraries.

"Everybody knows the value of Wi-Fi in today's always-connected environment, and at some point in the day, most people are connecting their smartphones, their tablets, their laptops, on a Wi-Fi connection. Studies have shown that employee productivity increases when employees aren't tied to their desks and where they feel they have the flexibility to collaborate in a mobile environment," Davis said.

"While we are seeing managed Wi-Fi become more popular in businesses today, it's often very bare bones without features to help drive that productivity -- and management of that environment is minimal."

Windstream differentiates its managed Wi-Fi service by making it customizable for each customer. With the E-Rate program focus, the company is extending beyond its traditional hospitality managed Wi-Fi customer base and into the education segment.

As Guy pointed out, hospitality and education are two industries where technology doesn't really have much to do with the core competencies. This creates a need and opportunity for companies like Windstream to provide management expertise.

When speaking about Windstream's move toward education, Davis mentioned that many schools take advantage of the E-Rate program set up by the FCC and Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). The FCC recently issued the E-Rate Modernization Order, which sets aside $2 billion over the next two years for program participants to install and manage campuswide Wi-Fi networks. It was with this in mind that Windstream tailored its managed Wi-Fi service specifically toward those schools pursuing E-Rate funding.

To me, this points to how big of a need there is to connect the younger generation and that many schools require expert help to implement technology, and specifically Wi-Fi, effectively.

"It's obviously very different this year than it was in the past," Davis said. "So a lot of schools we're seeing are really needing assistance to understand how they can optimize the funds that they're getting from E-Rate in order to provide those technology initiatives that help enable the 21st century learners that we have in schools today."

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