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In our previous blog, we talked about the intersection of two trends in education. We’re seeing an unusually strong bidding season for E-Rate participation to provide federal funding of broadband to schools. At the same time, more and more schools are putting esports programs in place to support their STEM curricula. Taken together, these trends present an excellent opportunity for schools looking to spend funds before they expire—while improving student engagement and learning outcomes.
So what’s required to make it happen? Esports is truly an immersive digital experience—with not only gaming applications, but livestreaming, social media participation, photos uploading, and more all happening at once. That means, when it comes to esports, the right school network is key.
But most of today’s learning networks were not designed for low-latency, high-performance esports traffic. Educational networks already handle digital lesson plans, printing, video security, Zoom calls, hybrid classes, database backups, rich cloud-based video course content, and much more.
Creating an esports-ready network
Performance is fundamental to esports, and connectivity is key to performance. To support fast-paced gaming apps, your network requires sub-50ms latency, low jitter, and low packet loss. If your learning network is already limited and connecting 30 Chromebooks in a classroom is a challenge, then you can imagine how much harder it will be to add high-performance gaming to the mix.
The esports experience is about much more than performance alone. You’ll also need to manage, secure, and continually optimize your network. So you’ll need to choose a vendor with the tools and features to support:
- Monitoring and troubleshooting
- Guest access
- Management reports
- Historical data
- Service validation for service-level agreements
- Cloud-managed and on-premises controllers
Don’t start without a roadmap
Just like any technology initiative, if you’re deploying or upgrading your network to enable esports (especially tournaments), you’ll require planning. You’ll need to take steps to be sure your network is esports ready and prepared for any upgrades needed. And you’ll likely need professional development training for scholastic esports, and technical training for IT staff.
Effective planning also requires close alignment between esports and your educational objectives. CommScope RUCKUS® has partnered with NASEF, the leading nonprofit for esports curriculum development and training, to help schools develop their STEM-based curriculum on a simple, reliable, flexible, and secure network that’s ready to handle any challenges.
Although learning networks and esports environments are two distinct programs, they can still share a source of financing: E-Rate. By using your E-Rate budget to upgrade your switching, WLAN, and structured cabling to multigigabit, low-latency networks—deployed in flexible learning spaces that are easy to reconfigure and scale up—your district could “double dip.” With the right approach, your network upgrade would also support scholastic esports, clubs and even tournament play, all while leveraging the same investment for modernizing networks for transition to digital learning.
Learn more about how CommScope RUCKUS can help you take the next step in esports to open the door to digital equity, inclusivity, improved student engagement, and STEM career paths. We can also offer guidance on your school’s federal funding allocation—such as E-Rate or other grants and subsidies—and help you apply for them.
Join us at one of are upcoming events to discuss our esports solution on your school’s campus and how to fund it with e-rate funding.