Wireless Umbrellas: the importance of increased connectivity for access to educational tools

Uniti insights - Wireless Umbrellas and Educational Connectivity Tools

Written by Tom Paredes

February 9, 2022

Most of us are learning remotely during this time. Here’s how wireless umbrella coverage can foster the support of a safe and secure learning environment.

Preparing students to be successful for the future – whether doing so within a classroom or from a remote standpoint – requires a robust infrastructure capable of supporting different engagement tools and providing ubiquitous access to technology that allows students to create, design and explore safely and securely.

In this day and age, it’s essential that students, teachers and administrators be able to connect to information in real-time, interact with one another using a variety of communication devices, and extend the learning environment beyond the classroom and into every student and staff members’ home. However, new tech capabilities create new demands on school networks, which must adapt to accommodate the unprecedented influx of users, devices and applications. The essential components of an infrastructure capable of supporting transformational learning experiences include the following:

    • Ubiquitous connectivity and persistent access to high-speed Internet
    • Powerful learning devices that connect learners and educators to the Internet
    • Constant facilitation of communication and collaboration
    • High-quality digital learning content
    • Tech tools that deliver engaging and relevant learning experiences
    • Policies to safeguard students and ensure that the infrastructure is used to support learning

Many schools and educational organizations, especially in these days of COVID-19, are looking to protect their users operating in-home networks. These home networks are connected to the larger organization networks, and an educational institution’s IT department needs to provide continuity in security no matter where the remote student/teacher is connecting. One such technology capable of doing so is a wireless umbrella.

What is a Wireless Umbrella?

A wireless umbrella is an essentially widespread protection for a specified Wi-Fi network under the circumstances that a user is accessing a protected network under various access points. Now that we as a nation are completing many tasks from home, we are relying heavily on the internet and our wireless networks to keep us connected, informed, up-to-date and operating “business-as-usual” on a day to day basis. This holds true for our educational systems – the students and teachers of our nation – as well. Umbrella WLAN protects users and guests who are accessing the internet from various wireless access points (e.g. their homes). By enforcing this kind of security, connections to unsafe or malicious sites are not able to be established and malicious files – which might be mistaken for classroom content – will be blocked from being downloaded. The umbrella is the first line of defense in terms of computer, network and purpose protection.

More About Umbrella Protection

As explained, the user of a wireless umbrella security system will always be protected, even if they log on their computer away from campus and at home. The umbrella software operates continuously on the user’s (e.g. student or teacher) remote computer, keeping them within the school district’s standards of computer security and safety no matter their specific geographic location. The umbrella operates transparently to the user, protecting behind the scenes. The user can know that the technology has its back when on the Internet and can better protect against malware or security threats.

If a student were to stumble upon a malicious website, the umbrella would inform the user through a custom browser screen and safeguard their remote learning device from being compromised. Additionally, internet filtering protects the user from inadvertently going to websites that are malicious or contain content not approved for educational use.

Increasing Access

Beyond security, a wireless umbrella also grants more capabilities and accessibility to several applications beneficial to students and staff alike. Offer a complete wireless umbrella for students, teachers and faculty to have access to tools and resources anywhere on campus. Provide the foundation for programs such as one-to-one computing, schoolwide video solutions and applications like wireless intercom systems, video streaming and clocks. Essentially, an umbrella allows all applications or services that require a network connection to run without wires. This helps keep all users happy with safe internet access, while also protecting the educational resource’s purpose and intent.

Organization in One Space

The umbrella also allows for sharing amongst trusted users, which means that students, teachers, faculty and staff can share safe files, agendas and the like to their cohorts. Students, despite being remote, will be able to access their daily, weekly or monthly assignments within the network or the umbrella dashboard. Essentially, every task that will need to be completed will be able to be completed within such space and can be done with the surety of protection. That is why establishing a secure umbrella for the educational community is safer than simply asking students and staff to log onto singular, personal platforms without any enacted security measures.

Get Coverage Today

Uniti Fiber collaborates with educational operators to develop the safest possible assets while relieving them of the burden of mystique. Demand for umbrella connectivity and protection is driving growth in telecommunications, fueled by the urgency of new security measures and the surety of such. Our unique solutions for educational institutions provide vital connections that unlock the value of potential in this nation’s educational system – something which we care about firsthand. Contact Uniti Fiber for more information.


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Kenny Gunderman
President - Chief Executive Officer
Kenny Gunderman

Kenny Gunderman is president and chief executive officer of Uniti Group Inc. He has 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and is focused on growing Uniti’s real estate portfolio of mission critical communications infrastructure. He has prior experience at Stephens, Lehman Brothers and KPMG. He currently serves on the board of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, the Hendrix College Board of Trustees, and the NAREIT Board of Governors. Gunderman holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hendrix College and an MBA from Yale.

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Treasurer - Chief Financial Officer
Paul Bullington

Paul Bullington is the chief financial officer and treasurer of Uniti Group Inc., previously serving as senior vice president of Strategic Operations for Uniti Fiber. Until its acquisition by Uniti in 2017, he served as the CFO of Southern Light, a position he held since the company began operating in 2001. During his time as CFO, the company was named one of the “5,000 Fastest Growing Companies in America” by Inc. Magazine for nine consecutive years.

Bullington also has prior experience at Accenture and Royal Cup Coffee. He currently serves on the board of Eastern Shore Repertory Theatre and is a former director of First Community Bank in Alabama. Bullington holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Birmingham-Southern College and an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Daniel Heard
EVP - General Counsel and Secretary
Daniel Heard

Daniel Heard is an executive vice president, general counsel and secretary for Uniti. Heard is responsible for the company’s legal affairs and corporate governance.

Heard previously was a partner in the law offices of Kutak Rock LLP in Little Rock, Arkansas.

At Kutak Rock, Heard represented public companies in corporate, securities and merger and acquisition transactions. His clients comprised a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, information technology and food processing. He has extensive experience in negotiating, structuring and consummating mergers and acquisitions, public offerings of debt and equity securities and other corporate finance transactions.

Heard graduated from the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Central Arkansas.

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Michael Friloux

Michael Friloux is an executive vice president and the chief technology officer of Uniti. He has over 30 years of telecommunications and information systems technology experience and is focused on future proofing Uniti’s information technology systems.

Friloux previously was chief executive officer and president of PEG Bandwidth where he led the wireless backhaul provider through a time of rapid expansion serving 2,400 cell towers over a 15,000 route mile network through 16 states.

Prior to joining PEG Bandwidth, Friloux served as president and chief operations officer for Citynet Fiber Networks where he developed the company into a leading regional wholesale carrier network spanning 13 states and 8,000 route miles.

Friloux started his career as a software engineer for Sabre Computer Services (American Airlines.)

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Oklahoma State University.

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SVP - Chief Administrative Officer
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Jennifer Ragsdale is senior vice president and chief administrative officer at Uniti, a Certified Great Places to Work company. Ragsdale oversees Uniti’s customer experience management, human resource efforts, diversity and inclusion programs, and leads execution strategy to create a culture of high performance.

Prior to joining Uniti, Ragsdale spent more than a decade in the human resources field, building and executing programs to drive operation strategies and organizational transformation.

Ragsdale is a certified professional in Human Resources (PHR), a SHRM certified Human Resources Professional (SHRM-CP) and is certified in Diversity and Inclusion in HR Management. Ragsdale previously served as the president of the Central Arkansas Human Resources Association. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Central Arkansas.

Ric Chura
SVP - Chief Information Officer
Ric Chura

Ric Chura is the senior vice president and chief information officer for Uniti. He previously served as Vice President of Information Technology at PEG Bandwidth, which was acquired by Uniti in 2016. He is responsible for setting Uniti’s cybersecurity strategy, technology governance and compliance and has led the integration of the multitude of companies acquired by Uniti.

Chura has over 20 years of experience in telecommunications industry working at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Predictive Systems, Callisma and FiberTower, a startup telecommunications backhaul provider. He has completed the Program on Negotiation from Harvard University and holds a Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering degree from Iowa State University.

Ronald J. Mudry
SVP - Chief Revenue Officer
Ronald J. Mudry

Ron Mudry is Chief Revenue Officer of Uniti Group Inc. and President of Uniti Leasing. In this role, Mudry is responsible for Uniti’s growth opportunities across its fiber and wireless infrastructure segments. He is also responsible for Strategy and Corporate Development.

Mudry leads Uniti’s sales and business development initiatives which include providing fiber based services to wireless carriers, wireline carriers, hyperscalers, content companies, cable MSOs and other wholesale customers. Mudry previously served as President of Sales and Business Development at Uniti Fiber.

Mudry has over 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and was the founder of two start-up fiber operating companies that grew to become leaders in their industry segment. He joined Uniti in 2016 following the acquisition of Tower Cloud, a company he founded in 2006, that was a leader in fiber, small cell and cell site backhaul services in the Southeast, U.S. Earlier in his career, he founded Progress Telecom (formed in 1998) and before that spent 15 years with GTE Corporation (now Verizon) where he held key management positions in finance, sales and marketing, international operations, treasury, strategic planning, and mergers and acquisitions.

Mudry serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of INCOMPAS, a telecommunications industry association.

Mudry holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in finance from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the University of Tampa.

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VP - Chief Accounting Officer
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Travis Black is the chief accounting officer of Uniti Group Inc. In his current role, Travis leads a team of over 40 employees and is responsible for the company’s financial accounting, external reporting and financial compliance activities. Additionally, Travis oversees the company’s technical accounting matters, including merger and acquisition transactions and critical accounting estimates.

Travis has been with Uniti Group since 2015, and previously served as the Director of Financial Reporting. He began his career at FedEx, and he has over 18 years of experience in financial accounting and reporting for public companies. Travis holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee and an MBA from the University of Memphis. He is also a Certified Public Accountant.

Andy Newton
President—Uniti Fiber
Andy Newton

Andy Newton is president of Uniti Fiber where he stewards Uniti’s efforts to design, build and operate its fiber network infrastructure.

Newton was the co-founder of Southern Light, and for the previous 19 years served as its president and chief executive officer where he led the overall operations, strategic guidance and culture of the company. Under his direction, Southern Light grew to become one of the top 10 largest pure fiber optic providers in the country.

Newton received an Economics degree from Birmingham Southern College and enjoys providing leadership to non-profits that focus on education and community planning and development.

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Vice President - Investor Relations
Bill DiTullio

Bill DiTullio has over 10 years of investor relations experience, joining Uniti’s investor relations team in 2017. Bill was promoted to Vice President of Investor Relations and Finance in August of 2019. Bill originally joined Uniti through the acquisition of PEG Bandwidth in 2016, and has held several various finance roles within the organization. Prior to joining the Company, Bill served as Sr. Investor Relations Analyst at Comcast Corporation. Before that, Bill worked as an associate equity analyst at Boenning & Scattergood. Bill began his early career working for Prudential Financial in several accounting and finance roles.

Bill holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Temple University and a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and accounting from Villanova University.