An annual tradition now more than a decade old is that the eighth-grade students in my hometown have the opportunity to take a four-day trip to Washington D.C. Because we're located not too far up the coast in New Hampshire, the middle-schoolers make the round trip via coach bus. The schedule for all four days, as well as the accommodations for students and chaperones, have been consistent for several years. In fact, the trip's daily schedule was distributed to each student and parent who attended a recent introductory meeting.
At that meeting, several school administrators and the travel agent were available to answer students' and parents' questions. The questions from parents covered topics like the ability to refrigerate medications, fundraisers that are available to offset costs, and opportunities to chaperone. Of the questions that students asked, approximately 90 percent started with the same four words: "Will there be WiFi ..."? "Will there be WiFi in the hotel?" "Will there be WiFi on the bus?" "Will there be WiFi at the Smithsonian?" One student had the courage to ask if the buses will be outfitted with restrooms. But he was a lone wolf.
Some of those eighth graders will be off to college in five years, and I for one cannot realistically fathom what their expectations will be for connectivity, wired or wireless, at that time. Higher-education IT association ACUTA, along with two other higher-ed administration organizations, recently published the 2014 State of ResNet report (ResNet being short for residential networks). The report describes schools' current wireless-networking coverage and capacity. We discuss some of the report's findings in the article that begins on page 27.
On another note, the local middle schoolers' use of the term "WiFi" underscores a point made in the guest-opinion column that begins on page 6. Ethernet Alliance member Steven Carlson makes a compelling case for a Power over Ethernet Logo Program. As a point of reference, he recalls that early 802.11-based wireless equipment did not always interoperate, which led to the WiFi Alliance's hugely successful logo program. He's right when he says that today people use the term "WiFi" without even thinking about the program or about 802.11.
So who knows? Maybe in a few years these same students will be asking college recruiters, "Will there be PoE ..."?