T-Mobile, the mobile carrier company, plans to provide free internet to over 10 million students who do not have reliable Internet access at home.
Dubbed as Project 10Million, the 10-year program worth over $10 billion aims to ensure that all U.S. students who are part of free and reduced-price school lunch programs have free internet connectivity at home.
“T-Mobile is officially launching Project 10Million, an unprecedented $10.7B initiative aimed at delivering internet connectivity to millions of underserved student households at no cost to them. Partnering with school districts across the country, the program offers free wireless hotspots, free high-speed data and access to laptops and tablets, at-cost,” T-Mobile said in a news release.
“And as the COVID-19 pandemic makes remote learning the new norm for millions of students across the U.S., the Un-carrier is expanding Project 10Million to offer more data options, including unlimited, for school districts to pass on to eligible student households at no cost to them.”
Project 10Million will give eligible households 100GB of data per year and a FREE mobile hotspot for 5 years. Additionally, participating school districts will have the option to apply the value of the free program, up to $500/year per student, towards additional data plans based on their students’ needs.
Only those school or school district students that are enrolled in the National School Lunch Program are eligible for the free program. It is for students grades K-12.
“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. This critical homework gap has tremendous short- and long-term impacts,” T-Mobile said.
“Now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented 50 million students are learning remotely. Those without reliable internet connectivity will face an even bigger schoolwork gap as they are unable to participate in any type of online classroom learning,” the company added suggesting that it leaves many kids at risk of falling behind in school.
School administrators can apply for the program by providing their students’ ZIP codes in the school lunch program so that T-Mobile can confirm service availability. The schools can then distribute the hotspots and devices, with T-Mobile offering help for setup and technical assistance.
Households can get a free hotspot and 100GB of data over a year, or they can pay $12 per month for 100GB of data every month, or unlimited data for $15 per month. The company can also provide tablets or laptops at cost.
However, the provided data limits may not be enough to meet all the requirements of students using Zoom, YouTube, and loads of other video-streaming platforms, entertainment and online classes. Currently, T-Mobile is limiting these video streams to a low-resolution 480p.
On the other hand, there will be a limited number of hotspots available, with T-Mobile allotting more every year. Additionally, the free plan will end after 100GB or 365 days, whichever is earlier, suggesting that the internet may shut down abruptly.
If you are a school administrator or parent/guardian and wish to apply for the program, you can do so by signing up here.