Thank you to all who submitted NFARE Research Proposals! Accepted NFARE Research Proposals will be announced May 16th.
Also, registration opens THIS MONDAY, May 8! Make sure to hold your spot at the biggest national rural ed conference of the year in Chattanooga, TN. The conference will be November 16-17, 2023, with a NEW pre-conference Showcase on November 15.
T-Mobile is Leading Rural Broadband Access–Showcasing "Why Rural Matters"
The transition from in-person learning to virtual learning over the past three years of the COVID-19 pandemic has proven that broadband access is essential for successful learning. Despite this, it is estimated that there are still nearly 17 million students who lack home internet access, generating a homework gap that could have ripple effects like an opportunity gap that can last a lifetime. Access to broadband is an even greater problem in rural communities where students are twice as likely to report an inability to complete schoolwork due to lack of technology. Disparities like these emphasize the need for expanding rural broadband access, and T-Mobile is making it a top priority. Nearly three years ago, T-Mobile and Sprint successfully merged to create the new T-Mobile. As a result of the merger, promises were made from the "Un-Carrier" to help bridge the digital divide by creating initiatives to address digital inequities and support rural communities. Rural deployment has been a top priority for T-Mobile, and with expansions to their network, services, and retail presence, their Extended Range 5G now covers 325 million people, almost every U.S. household, including in Puerto Rico. The company has invested $304 million in 2.5GHz spectrum licenses covering 81 million people—primarily in rural areas. This has spurred other wireless competitors to build out their own 5G networks, investing billions of dollars in spectrum to expand and enhance 5G deployment across the country. With unprecedented investments in their expanded 5G network, T-Mobile is able to ensure more Americans are able to stay connected. T-Mobile wants to make sure students stay connected as well. The company launched their Project 10Million initiative in 2020 in hope of eradicating the Homework Gap by providing 10 million at-risk students with free internet access. T-Mobile is fulfilling this promise, and as of September 2022, they have already connected more than 4.3 million students and invested $3.65 billion in services. In collaboration with school districts and student families across the U.S., this program provides free hotspots and data plans, as well as at-cost laptops and tablets, to ensure students can access the resources they need. With significant learning loss caused by remote learning during the pandemic, programs like Project 10Million can be life-changing. Not only has T-Mobile worked to ensure that every student has broadband access, but they have also expanded their 5G Home Internet service to previously unserved and underserved rural communities. With 82% of Americans living in an area with a broadband monopoly, the expansion of T-Mobile's Home Internet service is giving consumers a choice in affordable broadband access. One-third of the areas that T-Mobile's Home Internet service now covers previously had no or limited broadband options, and as of November 2022, their broadband services are now available to over 40 million households across the country. T-Mobile's support of rural communities goes beyond broadband access. Through its Hometown Grants initiative, the Un-Carrier is committed to helping build stronger and more prosperous small towns and rural communities. Launched in April 2021, T-mobile has pledged $25 million to help fund community projects in small towns. As of December 2022, the company has already provided $6.8 million in funding to 150 grant recipients. The community in Absarokee, Montana, which has been hard hit by wildfires and flooding, is using its grant to revitalize the town library as a vital local gathering spot. Additionally, Leeds, Alabama is using its Hometown Grant award to renovate a community center used for counseling, youth tutoring, and more.
T-Mobile knows that every connection counts and their commitment to closing the digital divide between rural and urban areas exemplifies this. Although there is more to do, this provider understands 'why rural matters' and continues to work tirelessly to ensure no rural student, household, or community is left behind as U.S. networks transition to a 5G nation. As T-Mobile continues to spearhead initiatives in rural America, we are confident that the future of rural education in America is on track to succeed.