Kajeet, a children-focused Sprint (NYSE: S) MVNO, is pushing a portable hotspot solution that it says can be used to bring mobile broadband service to disadvantaged students and is now eligible for Title I funds from the federal government.
The Kajeet SmartSpot, actually a Novatel Wireless MiFi device, can be sent home with children so they can access the Internet after school hours. It can now be purchased by schools using money from Title I, a funding resource provided by the feds to states, which sends the funds to local districts for allocation to schools with high poverty rates in order to improve students' achievement and close achievement gaps.
"As more schools implement digital and web-based learning and assessment programs, requiring students to work on assignments outside of the classroom, the poorest students are struggling to keep up with their connected peers," said Kajeet founder and CEO Daniel Neal. "Every time a teacher asks a child to go online at home, she or he is actively, if inadvertently, disadvantaging those who can't go to websites at night. This is an enormous problem and one Kajeet solves."
More than $14 billion is designated to high-poverty schools through Title I funds this year, according to a recent report from the National Title I Association.
Kajeet started out as an MVNO offering mobile phones and service to children. One of its big selling points is assurances to parents that they gain control over their offspring's wireless communications when they sign up with Kajeet.
In other school broadband news, the FCC has issued a report laying out its case, state by state, for an E-Rate modernization proposal designed to increase support for Wi-Fi connections in schools and libraries. The commission will vote on the proposal during its July 11 public meeting.
The proposal has three goals: get high-speed Internet to all classrooms and libraries by 2019, ensure funding is available to the vast majority of schools and libraries and streamline the program to make it faster, simpler and more efficient for all schools and libraries.
The FCC said strategic adjustments in the operation of the E-Rate can free up $2 billion of new funding over the next two years, with $1 billion to be spent in 2015 and 2016 each, which would be invested in Wi-Fi upgrades under the new proposal.
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