The U.S. wireless networks could provide a decent Internet connection - 25 to 75+ Mbps - to tens of millions in weeks. The networks have enough spare capacity, even though Verizon and AT&T have been cutting investment for several years.
The obstacles are cowardice and ignorance in Washington. Buying millions of lines, the government should be paying a wholesale price of $8-15 per month per connection. Of course the companies would rather be paid a retail rate of $30-50 per month, and some in DC don't realize the actual costs or are afraid to take on the telcos.
Telecom is a high fixed cost, low variable cost industry. Verizon and T-Mobile have built a network to ~97% of the population. Once the network is built, the marginal cost of adding a subscriber is $3-7 per month. That's why companies compete to sell Lifeline service at $10/month. (Cable economics are similar, which is why Comcast can sell a $10 offering to the poor.)
20 million homes added at $15/month for 10 months of school is $600 million. That's about 7% of the Universal Service Fund. I believe there is also money allocated to connecting students in the CARES stimulus.
T-Mobile is offering "Project 10Million" (Below) It is providing a free router and service at a price from $0-$14 per month. Since the Sprint acquisition, T-Mobile has so much capacity it intends to shut down tens of thousands of cells. The 5G upgrade in 2500 MHz spectrum is proceeding at about 3,000 cells per month. It roughly doubles T-Mobile capacity and will cover about a third of the US by the end of the year.
Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg on Tuesday reassured investors that its network is more than ready to handle added traffic from migrating around 7 million new subscribers.the deal – valued at up to $6.9 billion – won’t result in any material increase in capex since the carrier won’t need to add a meaningful amount of new infrastructure for added subscriber traffic, https://www.fiercewireless.com/operators/vestberg-verizon-s-network-can-handle-new-tracfone-traffic The 20 MHz of CBRS spectrum in the last auction will soon enable Verizon to add millions of additional connections.
AT&T has reassured Wall Street it has plenty of spectrum to meet demand far higher than today. Being able to add 5 million more is a low estimate.
10 million at T-Mobile, 7 million at Verizon, and 5 million at AT&T is 22 million. That's more than half the unconnected families.
Technology is moving incredibly fast in wireless. Verizon estimates its cost per bit is going down by 40% per year, while the traffic growth rate is only 30%. Over-capacity is rapidly getting worse.
Tens of millions of children in the US don't have a connection for remote learning. That's unconscionable six months into the pandemic. Even conservative Republicans, like Trump's first NTIA director, David Redl, believe everyone should be connected.
What about the 3-6 million rural homes who can't get a landline. (The figures are notoriously inaccurate.) Verizon and T-Mobile, covering 97% each, do not have a total overlap. Between them, they can reach between 98% and 99% of homes. That includes about half of those who can't currently be reached by a landline.
1-2% of the population can't be reached this way. A decade ago, the Broadband Plan realized that 44/100ths of 1% would be brutally expensive to reach. Think an offshore island with 6 homes or a ranch two miles away. We couldn't say so for political reasons, but everyone expected the last 1% to go satellite.
Fortunately, the new Low and Mid Earth Orbit satellites bring latency to below many landlines today. Elon Musk is testing a constellation with hundreds in orbit. It's not clear whether Elon can deliver 100 Mbps to 5 million homes, as claimed. But Starlink almost certainly will be able to deliver 50 Mbps for half a million within the year and expand from there.
Wireless when available is today a reasonable alternative to landline broadband. Millions can be connected in weeks. T-Mobile is on-boarding half a million a month and advertising aggressively for more. AT&T and Verizon have similar capacity.
1-3% will still be underserved, but lower latency satellites can connect many of them in 12-36 months.
Project 10Million gives eligible households 100GB of data per year and a FREE mobile hotspot for 5 years. Plus, participating school districts have the option to apply the value of the free program, up to $500/year per student, towards additional data plans based on your students needs.
During congestion, Project 10Million customers may notice speeds lower than other customers due to data prioritization. Video typically streams at DVD quality (480p).
It’s enough data for any one of the following:
Streaming school videos
Of online virtual learning
Of internet research
Of online college test prep
Who is eligible for Project 10Million?
Eligibility for free program is based on school or school district students enrolled in the National School Lunch Program and is for students grades K-12.
How do school administrators apply?
Interested schools or school districts can fill out a program request form. Upon receiving your application, a T-Mobile education expert will contact you.
How will devices be distributed?
All hotspots and other devices will be provided to eligible households by their school.
For parents or guardians with a child interested in Project 10Million, please raise your school’s hand and complete the form below.
The devices you need to stay connected.
School districts will receive one FREE mobile hotspot per eligible household. Schools can also purchase additional devices at cost:
- Coolpad Tasker tablet
- Samsung Chromebook 4
- Lenovo 100e Chromebook (Coming soon)
- Lenovo 100e Windows PC (Coming soon)
Up to five at-cost devices per eligible line.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put an unfortunate spotlight on the huge disparity between kids with and without home internet access. This will go on unless we collectively act.
Hard-working and dedicated education professionals all across the country are giving it their all to meet this urgent need. And the new T-Mobile team is giving it our all to be there for them.
From urban cities to rural America, students across the U.S. can benefit from the reach and capacity of our nationwide network with reliable, dependable service—when and where it's needed most.
Coverage not available in some areas. Roaming not available.
Through their school districts, students can get FREE hotspot devices, FREE high-speed data, and access to at-cost laptops and tablets. And, we also give school districts the option to apply the subsidy value of the free program – approximately $500 - towards plans that offer more data (100GB/month) or even unlimited data. All still completely free to students.