Back in January the White House announced that as part of their "ConnectED" initiative, they'd be bringing 100 Mbps broadband service to 99% of the nation's schools. At the time, we noted how the initiative was painfully vague
, failing to specify precisely who would be deploying this service -- and how. The announcement noted that the government would be forming "new philanthropic partnerships" with companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint and Verizon, though it didn't specify what those partnerships entail.
Sprint recently made their role in the program somewhat clearer with the announcement
that they'd be providing up to four years of Sprint Spark LTE connectivity. "Sprint Spark," a technology that effectively combines the company's 800 MHz, 1.9 GHz and 2.5 GHz LTE spectrum to provide what Sprint promises will be real-world downstream speeds of 50-60 Mbps -- to devices that can support it.
"Participating schools will be determined based on a comprehensive process that will assess, among other factors, applicants’ current 1:1 digital learning program and off-campus strategy, and the availability of Sprint Spark service in their surrounding market," notes the announcement.
While these one-off donations are certainly helpful, it remains unclear how the government is going to reach its 99%, 100 Mbps promise. Originally, the Administration had considered levying a new USF tax on your broadband connections
, but quietly backed off that idea after significant backlash. They've since decided to pull funds from the existing, historically somewhat dysfunctional
, fund pool.