T-Mobile said it is planning to provide free internet service to millions of students and their households to help with remote learning.

A general view of a T-Mobile store on March 26, 2020 in Deer Park, New York.
(Photo : Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
A general view of a T-Mobile store on March 26, 2020 in Deer Park, New York.

T-Mobile recognized that the pandemic brought in a new normal for students to deal with. They wanted to aid students by giving free internet service.

The initiative is worth over $10 billion, said a recent announcement from T-Mobile. It is meant to give free internet connections to all U.S. students who are part of free and reduced-price school lunch programs.

The cell service company said that the program would benefit millions of low-income households. It comes with free wireless internet hotspots and free high-speed data.

T-Mobile Partners with School Districts

School districts will be partnering with the company for the plan, USA Today reported.

Districts can apply for a grant, sharing their students' ZIP codes so that T-Mobile can confirm service availability. The schools will take care of hotspot distribution. Meanwhile, T-Mobile will chip in through setup and tech support.

After a district's application has been approved, the school can give each student a free hotspot and 100GB worth of data over a year. It will take about 8GB per month, noted End Gadget.

That much data can help with many Zoom calls, but it may not be enough. With that, school districts can also choose to take grant money ($500 per student per year) and apply it to discounted T-Mobile plans.

The plans can cover the 100GB of monthly data for $12 a month. Districts can also get unlimited data for $15 per month.

T-Mobile can also give out tablets or laptops at a cost.

The company will only need to review applications for a few hours, so that part of the process won't take long as well.

Bridging the Homework Gap

A blog post from T-Mobile noted that there are more than 9 million school-age kids in the U.S. without reliable internet access even before the pandemic. There are 56 million students in the country right now.

These efforts from T-Mobile point toward the striking reality that low-income households face: Without a reliable internet connection, taking part in a digital classroom is hard and can even be impossible.

T-Mobile first announced the goal to provide 10 million low-income households with free internet in 2019. They called it the "Project 10 Million."

It was part of T-Mobile CEO John Legere's goal to eliminate the "homework gap," said a report from The Verge.

It was during this time when the company sought to merge with the telecom company Sprint.

As the deal has gone through, T-Mobile said that the expanded network would play a crucial role in making the vision a success.

Based on the fine print of the free internet plan, it should be noted that access to data will end after 365 days or less. This could mean a student's data plan could be shut off abruptly.

Still, it is a much better option than having kids stay at restaurants for free Wi-Fi access to do their homework.

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