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 by 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 also invested $304 million
in 2.5GHz spectrum licenses covering 81 million people—primarily in rural areas. This will have the added effect of encouraging competition and choice in broadband service in rural locations.
All of this spurs other wireless providers 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 its Project 10Million
initiative in 2020 in hope of eradicating the Homework Gap by delivering internet connectivity to 10 million underserved student households at no cost to them. T-Mobile is fulfilling this promise, having 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 company 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 March 2023, the company has already provided $7.8 million
in funding to 175 grant recipients. For example, Absarokee, Montana, 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 service 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’re confident the future of rural education in America is on track to succeed.