Back in November, T-Mobile revealed its plans to give 10 million low-income households access to free broadband internet. This was one of then-CEO John Legere’s initiatives to close the “homework gap”. It was also one of the reasons why the company pushed its merger with Sprint. And now, it looks like this project has been given the green light.
T-Mobile recently revealed that it has set aside a budget of $10.7 billion for its Project 10Million program. This program will be one area they will focus in over the course of the next 10 years. Eventually, the goal of the program is to make broadband internet accessible to K-12 students under the national school lunch program for low-income families.
In a news release, a representative from the wireless network shared more information about this program:
“Even before the pandemic, more than 9 million of America’s 56 million school-age kids did not have access to reliable internet, and could not complete after-school assignments.”
And now with the ongoing health crisis, the homework gap is all the more felt in today’s society. With so many students left with no choice but to learn remotely, the need for home internet to be available is now greater than ever.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile is encouraging school administrators to apply for the program by providing ZIP codes for its students under the school lunch program. As for the parents of such students, they can volunteer the schools that they haven’t applied yet. Devices and hotspots will be distributed by the schools. T-Mobile will be providing assistance for technical support and setup. According to the wireless provider, each household will get a free hotspot and 100GB of data over a single year. Another option is to pay $12 monthly for 100GB of data each month.
But realistically speaking, those data limits may not be capable of meeting the needs of students; especially with tools like YouTube, Zoom, and other video-streaming services. T-Mobile still imposes a 480p limit on video streaming, so it could be quite a struggle.
Another limitation of this program is that it is not entirely free. According to the fine print, the free plan offered by T-Mobile will end after 365 days or once the 100GB allotted data is used up, whichever comes first. When this happens, the internet connection of students may be abruptly shut off.
But then again, any help is still help. It’s even a lot better than having kids sit outside of restaurants just so they can do their homework with the free Wi-Fi hotspot offered by these establishments. There are some things that T-Mobile needs to work on, if they truly want this program to succeed. But it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
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