NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Tennessee’s Department of Education has announced it’s launching a new initiative to provide wireless internet to students across the state. According to a Wednesday news release, the state is partnering with T-Mobile to enable households in participating school districts to receive connectivity devices or mobile Wi-Fi hotspot devices over the next five years. More than 40,000 devices will be made available this year with additional devices to be distributed in the following years. Districts will have three tiers of service to choose from, with 100GB of data per device per year available for free. Families can also choose to pay $12 to $15 for additional data.
The full release can be read below:
Nashville, TN—Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced a new five-year partnership, T-Mobile Tech for TN Students, to provide school districts across the state with access to over 200,000 student connectivity devices, or mobile Wi-Fi hotspot device, to provide directly to families at no cost to them.
Through T-Mobile’s nationwide initiative, Project 10Million, the department will provide participating districts access to student connectivity devices to provide mobile Wi-Fi to households across Tennessee, with more than 40,000 devices available this year. Districts have three tiers of service to choose from, with 100GB of data per device per year available for free.
“As our school districts have navigated through a global health pandemic over the past year, we know access to technology and the internet remains an issue for many students,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “We are grateful that T-Mobile launched this nationwide initiative and that we are able to partner to open opportunities for districts to secure free Wi-Fi hotspots for their students and their families to use at home.”
Each year over the next five years, more than 40,000 additional devices from T-Mobile will become available statewide and will be distributed directly to districts by T-Mobile according to economic factors including amount of Title 1 schools, distressed county designations and National School Lunch Program eligibility rates. Districts interested in participating will complete an online application and contract, and student connectivity devices are CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act) compliant.
Through this partnership, districts that choose to participate have three tiers of service to support virtual instruction and the needs of their families:
- Free: Allows for up to 100GB per year per device
- $12 per month: Allows for 100GB per month per device
- $15 per month: Allows for unlimited data per device
“Over the past several months, COVID-19 has presented significant challenges for families across the state, especially in rural areas where access to quality internet services is lacking. We are grateful to the department for providing access to these critical Wi-Fi devices so our students can continue to learn at home when virtual school is necessary,” said Dr. Versie Hamlett, Director of Fayette County Schools. “This program will allow us to bridge the connectivity gap and continue providing essential services to our students.”
Additional information on T-Mobile Tech for TN Students, including the online application, FAQ, and more, can be found here.
“Access to the internet means access to opportunity and T-Mobile believes every single child is deserving of that access,” said Mike Katz, executive vice president of T-Mobile for Business. “We are so proud that over the next five years Project 10Million will make free, reliable connectivity accessible to over 200,000 students all across Tennessee, including those in critically important underserved rural areas without high-speed internet.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the department has provided multiple districts with additional resources and funding related to technology, including $50 million in device funding grants and $15 million for districts to pursue connectivity options for students.
Project 10Million is a nationwide initiative from T-Mobile with the goal of offering free internet access and mobile hotspots to 10 million eligible households. Learn more about the initiative here.
For additional information on the department’s COVID-19 and school reopening related resources, please visit https://www.tn.gov/education/health-and-safety/update-on-coronavirus/reopening-guidance.html. For additional information, For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact [email protected].