Leap Wireless said it partnered with global nonprofit One Economy to apply for broadband stimulus money that would provide wireless broadband to low-income people in five cities. The announcement is notable in that some of the country's largest telcos, including AT&T, Verizon Communications and Comcast, decided not to apply for broadband stimulus money.
Leap said its proposal would give 23,000 low-income families in Baltimore, Houston, Memphis, San Diego and Washington, D.C., broadband access and digital literacy training. One Economy, which FierceBroadbandWireless recently profiled, has been providing free broadband access in metropolitan areas across the country.
Leap said the program would build on work already done by Project Change Access, launched last fall in Portland, Ore., as a pilot by LCW Wireless and One Economy. Leap owns a non-controlling interest in LCW Wireless, which offers Leap's Cricket unlimited service in Oregon markets. Leap said it submitted its proposal to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is overseeing the allocation of around $7 billion in broadband stimulus grants.
The government recently extended the application deadline to Aug. 20 for broadband stimulus grants. However, major operators have said they will not apply for the funds because such applications could draw unwanted scrutiny and because of possible conditions that might be applied, such as net-neutrality regulations.
- see this release
No surprise: Country's largest network operators not applying for stimulus money
One Economy weaving broadband into low-income housing