Sprint Bringing Free Internet, Mobile Devices to 1M U.S. Students
The program aims to provide internet access to disadvantaged high school students whose families can't afford services at home.One million disadvantaged U.S. high school students whose families can't afford internet access for their schoolwork will be eligible to get a free smartphone, tablet, laptop or hotspot device and mobile services from Sprint for up to four years each under a new program unveiled by the carrier. The "1Million Project" will provide about 200,000 free mobile devices and free high-speed mobile internet accounts per year for five years, ultimately reaching 1 million students, according to an Oct. 11 announcement from Sprint and the Sprint Foundation. The idea for the project is to help provide a means for disadvantaged high school students to gain access to the internet at home so they can complete their homework, communicate with teachers and apply for jobs, scholarships or colleges as part of their studies, according to Sprint. The lack of efficient internet access in the homes of disadvantaged students is described as the "Homework Gap," because it puts low-income students at a major disadvantage to students who have such capabilities. "Education is the foundation for our society to prosper, and the internet is an incredibly powerful tool for learning," Marcelo Claure, the CEO of Sprint, said in a statement. "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. All of us at Sprint are committed to changing this by providing 1 million students in need with free devices and free wireless connections."
Low-income households with children are four times more likely to be without broadband than middle- or upper-income households and their chances for success in society are "significantly reduced" because at least 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires web access, according to a report from the Federal Communications Commission's Broadband Task Force. The lack of home internet access is also a hindrance for parents of the students, since many schools use online grading systems to keep parents informed of their child's academic progress.