Sprint to give mobile devices and wireless data service to 1M low-income students

Image: Flickr user Our Stage, Your Show

Sprint said it will give free mobile devices and high-speed wireless internet service to 1 million low-income high school students in the U.S.

The nation’s fourth-largest mobile network operator said it will work with the Sprint Foundation and nonprofit agencies including EveryoneOn and Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance to recruit schools, libraries, public-housing authorities and other community organizations to help distribute and activate devices and services for up to four years for kids in high school. Students may receive either a free smartphone, tablet, laptop or hotspot device and 3 GB of LTE data per month.

“Education is the foundation for our society to prosper,” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a prepared statement, “and the internet is an incredibly powerful tool for learning. But it’s a huge problem in America that we have 5 million households with children that lack internet connections. Those kids have a huge disadvantage and we are failing them.”

Among other things, Sprint hopes to close the “homework gap” that exists in households that can’t afford access to the internet to complete homework, communicate with teachers or apply for jobs or college admissions.

Other tech companies are working to address the homework gap as well. Facebook is preparing for the U.S. launch of Free Basics, which gives people free access to certain websites via a zero-rated data model, and Comcast recently loosened requirements for its low-cost broadband service, The New York Times reported.

The Sprint Foundation was established in 1989 as the carrier’s philanthropic arm and claims to have provided millions of dollars to community organizations across the country. It supports organizations that focus on education, arts and culture, youth development, disaster relief and community development.

Sprint said its initiative, which is dubbed the 1Million Project, was designed to minimize the carrier’s cost while maximizing the value to students in need. “As a result, the overall cost to Sprint is not substantial,” the operator said.

For more:
- see Sprint’s announcement
- read this New York Times story

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