On more than one occasion in the presence of friends, I’ve wondered aloud how we ever got by without the power of the Internet at our fingertips. Indeed, it’s hard to fathom not having a constant link to the Internet at all times but for millions of high school students in the US, it’s a very real scenario.
According to the FCC’s Broadband Task Force, at least 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires access to the Internet. That’s a problem when roughly five million families in the US with school-aged children don’t have broadband access at home.
Given the numbers, it’s easy to see how a lack of connectivity at home – an obstacle sometimes referred to as the digital divide – is putting many students at a disadvantage.
Sprint, the nation’s fourth largest wireless provider, is looking to do something about it by providing students from lower income families with a reliable connection to the Internet at home courtesy of a multi-year initiative known as the 1Million Project.
In partnership with non-profit agencies like EveryoneOn and My Brother’s Keeper, Sprint will provide qualifying students with a free smartphone, tablet, laptop or hotspot device and 3GB of high-speed LTE data per month for a period of up to four years while in high school. Those that receive a smartphone will also get unlimited domestic calls and texts while on Sprint’s network and can use the phone as a hotspot.
Beginning in January 2017, the program will be tested in seven to 10 markets before a nationwide rollout that’ll take place at the start of the 2017 school year.