T-Mobile’s educational initiatives have connected 3 million students … and we’re just getting started
Posted 27 minutes ago
Proposed by T Mobile
By Mike Sievert, CEO of T-Mobile
The last school year has been anything but normal for America’s 56 million K-12 students. You hear the word âunprecedentedâ a lot, and it really was. Many young students are used to the structure and routine, and rely on tools in school that they may not be able to get at home, such as reliable internet connectivity. For these children, school closures across the country have had impacts that experts are still trying to fully understand.
This problem is not new – the pandemic has just brought it to light. And although most students across the country have returned to in-person learning, the problem persists. While estimates of the number of students who lack reliable connectivity outside of the classroom vary widely, what we do know for sure is that this problem has affected millions of people – for many years. Education is supposed to be the great leveler in our society, but for there to be more equal outcomes there has to be more equal access – and in this case, that means equal access to broadband connectivity even after students leave school for the day.
This is why, even before the pandemic, T-Mobile saw the potential to take on the enormous network capacity that our newly merged company would provide and designed a program that addresses this important digital divide issue, called “the gap.” homework â, at a size and scale that is truly historic. It is a program which, to our knowledge, is one of the largest and most ambitious programs ever launched by a non-governmental organization to connect children. Our $ 10.7 billion project, officially launched in 2020, now offers free internet service and free mobile hotspots to under-connected households with school-aged children, with the goal of reaching up to 10 million eligible households over five years. The program provides free, highly subsidized data plans for school districts that they can provide to their students for free.
The timing couldn’t have been more critical. When COVID-19 hit, students without reliable digital access were not only left behind, they were cut off from the classroom altogether. For our part, the T-Mobile teams who had previously worked with school districts across the country have shifted into high gear. And the result has been that over 1,000 school districts have signed up for the program and that thousands of individual families with eligible students have signed up directly. All inclusive, T-Mobile has logged in 3 million students nationwide since the start of last year.
A story from the Renton School District, a participant in the 10 Million Project just down the road from T-Mobile’s headquarters in Bellevue, Wash., Underscores the need for this program. After school counselor Sophia Simpson-Verger moved in-person parent conferences to Zoom, she became concerned when several families did not show up for their digital sessions. So she decided to hide and stop by to find out why. Sophia learned that many of her students did not have reliable connectivity. Parents couldn’t log into the lectures, and students even used a parent’s cell phone to try to keep up with distance learning every day.
Imagine going to school with a cell phone. It’s heartbreaking but it’s not uncommon either. And it persists even after things have started to return to in-person learning as we look forward to post-pandemic times. The digital divide has not disappeared with the deployment of vaccines. As schools reopened last spring and children of all ages began returning to class, about two-thirds of U.S. public schools were still taking at least some of their homework. And it’s a slippery slope. Children who don’t have the tools they need are left behind. And the more students fall behind, the more difficult it is for them to stay motivated.
Integrating technology into the classroom has clear benefits as the digital economy grows exponentially, but until now, universal access to the tools needed to participate equitably has remained elusive. An important factor is the expense, especially for economically disadvantaged families. Families in the United States pay an average of $ 68 per month just for home Internet service, according to data from New America. Add in taxes and things like equipment rental fees and the total often goes up from $ 80 to $ 100, depending on where they live. This may not seem like much to some people, but for families who live on paychecks with a myriad of other bills to pay, finding an extra $ 100 a month just isn’t possible.
While the solution sounds simple – make sure every student in America has broadband service and a device to connect to it – the reality is not. But we are making huge progress. I am proud to say that T-Mobile has been one of the strongest advocates of universal connectivity. We began our campaign to bridge the gap long before pandemic-induced distance learning turned a lingering problem into a crisis in its own right – and we’re not stopping now. Programs like Project 10Million are crucial for young people across the country. As our global society becomes increasingly dependent on internet technology, we cannot take it for granted that everyone, all over the world, can go online when they need to. Last month, I shared another blog post about T-Mobile’s commitment to bridging the digital divide for ALL. No American, no matter what their economic situation and whether they live in an urban or rural area, should be left behind.
In my opinion, T-Mobile has an important role to play in permanently eliminating the digital divide in this country. So every American student has access to the connectivity they need. As much as we have done so far to connect millions of students across the country, there are millions more to be done. Now we are eagerly awaiting the second full school year of the 10Million Project – and we are just getting started.
To learn more about T-Mobile’s 10Million Project or to enroll your school district in the program, visit www.t-mobile.com/p10m. If you are the parent or guardian of an eligible student, you can register at www.t-mobile.com/project10million.
As a US non-operator, T-Mobile US, Inc. (NASDAQ: TMUS) is redefining the way consumers and businesses purchase wireless services through cutting-edge product and service innovation. The company’s advanced national 4G LTE network delivers exceptional wireless experiences to millions of customers who don’t want to compromise on quality and value.
Based in Bellevue, Washington, T-Mobile US provides services through its subsidiaries and operates its flagship brands, T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile.
More T Mobile