Microsoft and T-Mobile hope to tackle broadband gap with free 4G plans for US schools

Microsoft Education Devices
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is partnering up with T-Mobile to provide free 4G LTE coverage to help out schoolchildren in underserved or rural areas where broadband isn’t available in the US, and as part of a drive to push its ‘Connected PCs’ in education markets in general (with two such fresh devices being introduced).

The pilot program will begin in February 2020 and will offer SIM cards and free 4G LTE coverage plans to schools in selected districts in the aforementioned underserved areas of the US.

Microsoft notes that according to the FCC, the vast majority of teachers (70%) set homework which requires broadband access to complete, yet there are still 25 million folks who don’t have access to a broadband connection (19 million of these are in rural, out of the way areas).

And there are many more out there – almost 163 million apparently – who might be connected, but are not using the internet at minimum broadband speeds. That’s half the population; a highly worrying statistic.

Addressing inequalities

So naturally, it’s easy to see why Microsoft is driving home the advantages of having always connected laptops with LTE coverage (or indeed 5G coverage, going forward). These devices could help to even out inequalities in education, in terms of the broadband haves and have-nots, by introducing connectivity to areas which aren’t otherwise viable.

This isn’t just about the US, either, as Microsoft has announced that it is partnering with Vodafone to deliver “education-specific cellular connectivity plans to customers using the newest Connected PCs” in markets across Europe, and also Africa.

As we mentioned at the outset, Microsoft has introduced a pair of new Connected PCs which are built – and priced – for the education market, namely the JP.IK Turn T101 and Positivo Wise N1212S.

Both are affordable devices, particularly the former which will start at $299 (around £230, AU$430), with the Positivo Wise being priced from $575 (around £440, AU$830).

Via MSPower User

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).