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New educational approaches require advanced communications networks, and passive optical LANs (POLs) are a good fit for university campuses.


  • New educational technologies have the opportunity to significantly improve educational approaches and student outcomes, but these technologies require advanced communications networks to ensure high-quality delivery throughout the campus.
  • POLs provide strong advantages over traditional Ethernet-based LANs, including bandwidth capacity, longevity, ease of upgrade, power, and real estate.
  • Many university IT and facilities departments are unfamiliar with POLs, leaving IT directors to upgrade Ethernet LANs every few years rather than evaluating a new approach.

Features and Benefits

  • Evaluates POLs and their use on the university campus.
  • Assesses the advantages and disadvantages of a POL compared to a traditional LAN, focusing on higher education campuses.
  • Identifies a key driver of bandwidth demand in the university setting.

Key questions answered

  • What is a POL and how does it compare to a traditional LAN? What are its advantages and disadvantages?
  • Why does a POL fit the networking requirements of a university?
  • How are bandwidth requirements in the university environment changing?

Table of contents


  • Catalyst
  • Ovum view
  • Key messages


  • Recommendations for universities
  • Recommendations for vendors and system integrators

ICT spending is expected to remain strong

  • Infrastructure and communications segments represent 38% of the ICT budget

AR and VR enhance student learning

  • But more bandwidth will be needed throughout the campus

A brief background on POLs, LANs, and the upgrade

  • The basics of a POL and a traditional LAN
  • Moving from a traditional LAN to a POL

A POL's pros and cons for a university campus

  • A POL mostly brings advantages, but the lack of familiarity is a key issue

Selected case studies

  • Cost savings with future-proofing take the headlines

Next Steps

  • Market education is key


  • Methodology
  • Further reading
  • Author