In an announcement today, Sprint said it would give away 1 million internet-connected devices to low-income high school students across the United States.
Devices will be provided over five years
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a conference call with reporters that the company's 1Million Project would act as "a way to help bridge the homework gap" for children in millions of US households that lack internet access. The company plans to distribute the devices — which could be laptops, phones, tablets, or hot spots — over five years. Claure says Sprint will attempt to stay "flexible" on which devices the students can choose.
Various manufacturers have already committed to providing the devices free of cost, Claure says. Students who receive a device will also receive a three-gigabyte data plan, with slowed speeds after. (Claure says the company has also considered selling additional data at reduced prices.) The company will launch a pilot of the program in January 2017, and plans to ultimately provide internet access to students for up to four years of high school.
Claure believes the additional costs to Sprint — a company that has had, a best, a rough time lately — will be minimal. There was additional space on the company's network to provide service for the students, and Claure said the company was "consolidating" money from other charitable projects for the new initiative.
Claure also suggested the students will, later in life, remember Sprint's charitable efforts when selecting service. "I think that’s going to be part of the decision," Claure said.