NDIA welcomes every new resource to the complicated work of digital inclusion. We welcome Sprint’s announcement to provide low-income students with devices and data (throttled at 3GB) through community partners.
As a means of reducing the homework gap, it is the hotspot functionality of the device that is most useful. Sprint’s 1Million Project promotional site states the device will be a smartphone, tablet, laptop or hotspot device. The more tablets, laptops and hotspot devices, rather than smartphones, the more valuable this program will be. The usability of a smartphone as the computing device is limited.
After the student uses 3GB of data on Sprint’s LTE network, the student will be throttled to a 2G connection. The more data Sprint can provide to the students, the more valuable this program will be. Even with certain sites filtered (such as Netflix), a student who does not have an alternate broadband connection at home, will go through 3GB very quickly. A 3GB data limit is likely to lead community partners to filter data heavy sites, such as YouTube, which can be problematic because YouTube has a substantial amount of educational material (including content from Google Classroom).
As a national digital inclusion resource, Sprint’s 1Million Project is an opportunity for localities across the country to gather the community anchor institutions and community-based organizations on the front lines of increasing digital equity. The availability of a new resource can often be the impetus to gather the variety of digital inclusion efforts to strategize a more holistic digital equity plan.
Sprint’s 1Million Project requires the community partner to commit to a staff person at 10 hours per week to support a minimum of 250 high school students. For some community partners, Sprint’s 1Million Project may be the perfect device and data solution and thus well worth the devoted staff time. Depending upon the needs of the community and availability of existing resources, other device and data solutions may be a better fit. Each community makes the call on how to allocate limited staff resources.
NDIA’s affiliates are those organizations on the front lines of increasing digital equity. NDIA looks forward to hearing how schools, libraries, municipalities and community-based organizations capitalize on Sprint’s 1Million Project to increase the impact of existing digital inclusion resources AND attract new digital inclusion resources.
NDIA also looks forward to additional Internet Service Providers dedicating resources to the pursuit of digital equity, thus strengthening individuals and our communities.