T-Mobile Us Inc. (NASDAQ:TMUS) has embarked on an ambitious project that seeks to ensure students don’t miss out on learning, even as COVID-19 continues to derail learning activities worldwide. The cellular service network provider has announced a $10.7 billion initiative that will deliver free internet connectivity to millions of students across the country.
T-Mobile Free Internet
The ten-year program will see the company deliver free wireless hotspots to millions of low-income households as well as free high-speed data. The company has already partnered with school districts across the country as it also seeks to supply tablets and laptops to ensure students engage in virtual learning, the new norm amid COVID-19.
School districts can apply for the free internet program by providing Zip codes to their students in the school lunch program. Parents can also volunteer in their schools. Once approved, schools will be tasked with the responsibility of distributing hotspots and devices with T-Mobile providing technical support whenever needed.
At the start, households will get 100GB of data over a single year. The limited data on offer may not meet all students’ needs, especially those using YouTube, Zoom, or other video streaming platforms. Likewise, T-Mobile has capped video streams to low-resolution 480P.
Households requiring more data can opt to pay $12 a month to receive 100 GB. School districts will be able to take grant money, around $500 per student, and apply it to discounted T-Mobile plans that offer the $100 GB monthly data for $12.
Learning Amid COVID-19
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 50 million students have been forced to stay off-campus and learn remotely. Before the epidemic, more than 9 million school-age kids did not have access to reliable internet to complete school assignments. T-Mobile is looking to change all this with the $10 billion ambitious projects.
The push to provide 10 million low-income households with free internet started in 2019 as the company was pushing for the acquisition of Sprint. With the deal complete, the third-largest carrier now has the resources and financial resources to bring the program into fruition to accomplish its vision.
While the $10.7 billion project is a big boost to the embattled education sector, it might not end up benefiting all kids. For instance, it is estimated that 16.9 million kids don’t have the connectivity required to connect classes online. Similarly, not all school districts intend to conduct classes online.
T-Mobile has been working with schools, state governments, and technology partners ever since the pandemic started. The company is trying to find the best way possible to ensure students continue learning even as COVID-19 disruptions refuse to go away. The company has already connected more than 1.6 million students across the country, targeting more than 3,100 school districts.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is another tech giant that has moved to ensure students continue learning amid the pandemic. The iPhone maker has already connected over 1 million students as part of a partnership with the California Department of Education.