T-Mobile aims to bridge the homework gap by providing free internet access to millions of students

Ari Howard

Sep 18, 2020 — 3 min read

The wireless giant is investing over $10 billion to provide access to low-income students across the country.

T-Mobile just announced it plans to give free internet to 10 million students. This plan, known as “Project 10million,” will cost $10.7 billion and last for at least five years. T-Mobile first proposed Project 10million in 2019 when it was pushing for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow their company to merge with Sprint. The FCC agreed to the merger because they “found that the transaction [would] help close the digital divide.” 

T-Mobile highlighted the benefits of joining with Sprint by releasing the statement, “Now that T-Mobile and Sprint have merged, we can do amazing things to create greater equity for students, starting with a $10 billion, five-year commitment to ensure students have connectivity at home.”

With millions of K-12 students learning remotely due to the pandemic this year, T-Mobile’s Project 10million couldn’t come at a better time. According to a 2019 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), nearly 9 million students have unreliable internet with nearly half of those students having no internet access at all. That’s millions of students who are unable to complete homework assignments or access school courses online. As the pandemic has pushed low-income and minority students months behind their peers in school, the need to supply all students with internet access is urgent. 

Who is eligible for Project 10million?

T-Mobile’s Project 10million will be available for K-12 students who are enrolled in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) — a federally assisted meal resource that subsidizes the cost of lunch for low-income students. 

The application process goes through K-12 schools in which administrators apply on behalf of their school and the percentage of students enrolled in NSLP. Although school administrators will likely be the majority of applicants, parents and guardians can also apply on behalf of their child’s school. 

How much internet data does each student receive?

Project 10million will provide all eligible students with 100GB/year and a free mobile hotspot. Students will have access to both the internet data and the mobile hotspot for at least five years. This offer is only available once per household. 

T-Mobile broke down how much 100GB of data gets you. It’s enough data for one of the following:  

  1. 140 hours of streaming school videos 
  2. 200 hours of online prep courses 
  3. 320 hours of online virtual learning 
  4. 5,000 hours of internet research 

Since some households may require more data than 100GB/year, T-Mobile also provides the option for students to use the money this package is valued at ($500/year) towards a larger data plan and paying the rest out-of-pocket. Families with multiple students in need of internet access may choose this option, considering the average U.S. household uses an average of 344GB/mo., according to the FCC

Therefore, if students stick to the 100GB/year data plan, they will need to be extremely careful about how they are allocating their data usage. Only time will tell if Project 10million is enough to narrow the rapidly growing homework gap. 

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Ari Howard

Written by:

Ari Howard

Associate Writer, Broadband & Wireless Content

Ari Howard is a staff writer Healthline and spent two years as a writer on the Allconnect team. She specialized in broadband news and studies, particularly relating to internet access, digital safety, broadband-… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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