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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
On Thursday, T-Mobile CEO John Legere announced that, if his company’s merger with Sprint closes, the New T-Mobile would roll out a program to help provide children across the country with greater access to the internet and close the “homework gap.”
T-Mobile is calling it “Project 10 Million,” and it aims to provide 10 million households with free access to the internet. It’s a $10 billion commitment from the proposed New T-Mobile that will take place over the next five years. The company has also vowed to invest another $700 million to put hardware, hot spots, and reduced-cost devices in 10 million households to help deliver access.
Eligible families will receive “up to 100GB of free internet access each year, one free Wi-Fi enabled hot spot, and the option to purchase select Wi-Fi enabled devices at the company’s cost.”
T-Mobile says it will work with local community organizations to determine eligibility and build an enrollment process for Project 10 Million. “You show us where they are, and we’ll jointly figure out a way to get this in their hands,” said Legere. But some details are already known; according to T-Mobile president and COO Mike Sievert, the 10 million devices will be distributed across states based on population. “We’re gonna allocate them based on some simple principles. They’re for families with children that are school-aged, families that don’t meet a certain income threshold, and who are under connected,” he said on a media call this morning.
The plan is part of T-Mobile’s latest bid to sway a group of attorneys general into dropping a lawsuit to block its merger deal. The company is calling it “5G for Good,” and it’s launching these blatant good-will initiatives to convince state attorneys general that the proposed merger is in the best interest of consumers and not anti-competitive.
The lawsuit from the attorneys general is set for trial next month, and T-Mobile has previously vowed not to close its deal with Sprint until the matter is resolved. The merger has already received approval from the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, so the states are the only group standing in the way of the deal.