Sprint Starts Filling in Digital Divide at 11 Schools
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A commitment to provide free wireless devices and internet access to a million students has gone into pilot mode. In October, Sprint and its foundation announced the 1Million Project, designed to address the digital divide and close the "homework gap." Now, the telecommunications company has said it would get the program started among 4,000 students in 11 cities starting in January. Schools will be working with Sprint to identify which students will receive the devices and data service.
Each student will receive a device — either a free smartphone or tablet and hotspot device. He or she will also be able to access up to 3GB of high-speed LTE data per month. Once usage exceeds that, the student can get online at 2G speeds for the remainder of that month. Those who receive the smartphone can use it as a hotspot and for unlimited domestic calls and texts. Data service is provided on the Sprint network.
Once the pilot is fine-tuned, schools will be invited to participate in further rollout of the project, which is expected to start with the 2017-2018 school year and continue for five years. Eventually, a million students will be in the program for the duration of their four years in high school.
School systems in the first round include:
"As technology continues to grow in importance at our schools, a mobile device and internet access have become basic necessities that students cannot do without," said Kevin Kunkel, Sprint president for Southern California, in a statement. "Our investment will enable even more high school students to be outfitted with the tools needed to help pave the way for college and career success."
The foundation is encouraging people to support the program by making financial donations or donating their used mobile devices, which will be recycled or resold.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.