Sprint said today that it will provide more than $2 billion worth of wireless service, technical support and staff to support a program offering low-income wireless for students, dubbed 1Million Project. This Sprint low-income wireless support program will provide smartphones or wireless devices donated by several manufacturers, along with 3GB of LTE per month, at no charge to 180,000 high school students for up to four years.
Students who use more than 3 GB in a month will continue to get service, but at a slower speed, Sprint said. The Sprint Foundation, Sprint’s philanthropic arm, will administer the program.
Sprint Low-Income Wireless for Students
In a press release, Sprint said the low-income wireless program targets students who do not have internet access at home and who face increased challenges as internet access becomes increasingly important in completing assignments and accessing other information.
“It’s so ironic that we focus on the achievement gap that’s measured by how well kids do on tests and their graduation rates,” comments Pedro Noguera, distinguished professor of education in the Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences at UCLA and director of the Center for the Study of School Transformation, in a video about 1Million Project on the Sprint site. “What we don’t focus on are the opportunity gaps that are responsible for those gaps in achievement.”
“Potential is everywhere; opportunity is not,” reads a subtitle in the video.
“All kids have potential and they deserve the opportunity to succeed,” says the video narrator.
The 1Million Project was pilot tested earlier this year and 86% of students who participated said the project improved their attitude toward learning and school and helped them do their homework in a comfortable, convenient and safe place, Sprint said.
Several broadband providers, including Cox, Comcast, AT&T and others, offer discounted internet service for low-income households with school-age students or other low-income users, but the Sprint program is unique in that it offers free service and is wireless, rather than landline-based.
Some researchers have found mobile broadband to be an incomplete substitute for landline broadband. But given a choice between the two options, I suspect many – if not most — high-school age students would prefer wireless. And the fact that it is a free, rather than discounted service should enhance its appeal.