The wireless industry is
students connected during COVID-19.
As schools around the country work to mitigate the risk of coronavirus, wireless providers have quickly stepped up to make sure homebound children have the tools they need to participate in distance learning and stay engaged with their classmates and teachers from afar.
To date, the industry has helped connect 2 million students by providing free and discounted devices and data plans, as well as millions of dollars in donations and resources. Learn more about how the wireless industry is helping, and how we continue to partner with school districts and governments to keep kids connected.
02. connecting underserved kids
The wireless industry has long partnered with schools to expand connectivity opportunities, particularly in underserved communities—in almost 1 in 5 households, the only internet connection is a smartphone. Since March 2020, the industry has intensified efforts to connect students.
Verizon’s Distance Learning Program offered discounted connectivity to more than 38 million students across 40 states and the District of Columbia as of September 2020.
Since February 2020, T-Mobile has connected more than 1.6 million students. Their Project 10Million is a $10.7 billion initiative to provide wireless hotspots, high-speed data and access to laptops and tablets, at-cost—or the equivalent value of ~$500 annually per student household.
AT&T has committed $10 million to support students in need with free hotspots and data plans, in partnership with nonprofit Connected Nation. They’ve also offered discounted and low-cost wireless plans to schools across the country to help connect more students.
Wireless providers have worked with state and local governments and school districts across the country to connect America's students.See Data by State
03. Connecting kids initiative
The wireless industry’s Connecting Kids Initiative is a new resource for schools and school districts to help keep kids learning in these unprecedented times.
How wireless is Helping
CTIA launched the Connecting Kids Initiative to simplify the process for school districts to find remote learning hotspot solutions by connecting them with wireless operators working to provide broadband access to kids and families in their area.
School districts are encouraged to submit their connectivity needs, and CTIA will help connect them to participating carriers, including the three nationwide wireless operators and regional operators across the country.
The submission must be from an official representative of a school district with responsibility for procuring and managing technology and connectivity solutions. We will share your request with participating wireless operators in your community that are working hard to connect kids and families. Please remember there may be other broadband options in your community beyond our participating carriers that could help address your needs as well. Carriers will follow-up with you directly if there is a good match. Please direct any questions to ConnectKids@ctia.org.
Please reach out directly to your wireless provider to explore your options to enable hotspot-functionality on your smartphone or other wireless device to support remote learning. Please share this initiative with your school district, as we can only process requests from school districts.
04. enhancing existing partnerships
During the pandemic, the wireless industry expanded and enhanced their existing education programs.
Enhanced Education Programs
T-Mobile made 20 GB of data free per month to students who use their EmpowerED digital learning programs, which provide discounts on hotspots, laptops, tablets and other wirelessly enabled devices to students who may not have access to high-speed internet at home.
They also expanded the program to reach over 56,000 students during the ’20-21 school year—since its launch in 2012, 350,000 students have benefitted from the program’s mission to foster digital inclusion, by offering free devices, data access and STEM-focused lesson plans.
Qualified schools that were activating new data plans for school-issued tablets, 4G LTE-enabled laptops and hotspot devices received free service for 60 days.
Carolina and Stefanie's Story
05. high-speed data and flexibility
Wireless hotspots are helping kids access school programs on a laptop, tablet or directly from the smartphone.
Turning a smartphone or tablet into a hotspot to create an internet connection for a
other connected device is called tethering and it can be done via USB, Bluetooth, or
via a wireless data connection.
This kind of broadband connectivity can be very convenient if a family already has a mobile device.
Separate hotspot devices, like Mi-Fis, create a Wi-Fi signal to connect families’ phones, laptops or other devices. And just like with a cellphone, there are different data plans to choose from to meet a student’s needs.
Adjusted Data Plans
AT&T increased mobile hotspot data by 15 GB a month for each line on unlimited plans that included a monthly tethering allotment.
UScellular provided its Unlimited Everyday and Even Better Plan customers with an extra 15 GB of hotspot data.
Verizon added an extra 15 GB of data to most mobile hotspot plans to support increased connectivity needs.
T-Mobile shifted consumers on metered data plans to unlimited data, plus provided an extra 20 GB of hotspot data to those with smartphone hotspot plans.
Demi and Bella’s Story
06. Fighting Student Hunger
Nationally, over 29 million children are eligible for low-cost or free school lunches, a critical support system under threat with the closure of so many American schools. The wireless industry is doing our part to provide meals for students and their families in this time of need.
How Wireless is Helping
A $5 million dollar donation was made in support of No Kid Hungry Responds: Coronavirus, which will help feed low-income children who are impacted by school closings.
T-Mobile donated additional funds to help the organization’s quest to end hunger through relationships with manufacturers, retailers and other partners to collect and distribute healthy food that would otherwise go to waste.
$500,000 went directly to a local food bank that seeks to fill the food gap for residents caused by school closures and other COVID-related events.
Keysha and Matthew's Story
07. Supporting educational programming
Providers are also investing in educational programs and services that will help engage children in new forms of immersive, online learning.
How Wireless is Helping
AT&T announced a new $10 million Distance Learning and Family Connections fund, including contributions to Khan Academy, an innovative online library of educational lessons, and funding 60 free days of Caribu, a video-calling app to connect family members in bonding and educational activities like reading, drawing and playing games.
USCellular’s JASON Learning partnership allows students to explore STEM learning topics through their “Storm Sanctuary” module, which is available for free for students to download.
Verizon offered customers 60 days of free educational games and tools, including Quizlet, which helps students practice language, science, math and history skills; Bookful, which uses AR to create an immersive reading experience for children; Chegg, a study aid and Epic!, an accessible, safe, digital book library of over 40,000 titles.