Cricket Communications, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leap Wireless, is applying for $8.6 million in federal broadband stimulus funds to extend wireless broadband to low-income residents in five cities. The grant proposal is in partnership with One Economy, a global nonprofit organization that delivers technology and information to low-income people.
The proposal to the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is overseeing $7.2 billion in federal funding dedicated to broadband expansion, would build on the success of a Portland, Ore., pilot program launched in 2008 by One Economy and LCW Wireless, a company in which Cricket owns a non-controlling interest.
The pilot program has succeeded in getting and keeping low-income community members online, with wireless access, modems, training and other support. The Aug. 17 grant proposal would provide an additional 23,000 low-income families primarily in Baltimore, Houston, San Diego, Washington and Memphis, Tenn., with broadband access and digital literacy training.
Project Change Access would furnish subsidized, low-cost wireless broadband via Cricket's all-digital 3G wireless network and a wireless device designed to work with both desktops and laptops.
"As we have seen in the results of the Portland pilot of Project Change Access, universal broadband is the key to economic revitalization in low-income communities that need growth in businesses and jobs the most," Dave Maquera, vice president of strategy at Leap Wireless, said in a statement. "Cricket remains committed to bringing the benefits of wireless and mobile broadband to everyone, including low-income families who deserve the benefits of digital innovation that online access brings."