T-Mobile gives free unlimited 5G service to first responders
Back on November 7th, before coronavirus and COVID-19 became household names, T-Mobile announced its plans for nationwide 5G service. That day, former CEO John Legere and his hand-picked successor Mike Sievert discussed some of the new services that T-Mobile would be able to offer if the merger with Sprint closed. And now, more than half a year later, the deal has closed and T-Mobile is actively enhancing its 5G network using the 2.5GHz mid-band spectrum it acquired from Sprint in the merger.
T-Mobile has plans for some of its extra capacity
This morning, one of the new services T-Mobile promised to offer following the merger is being promoted by the carrier with a YouTube video. The Connecting Heroes Initiative promises free unlimited 5G service to first responders. The latter is defined by T-Mobile as "state & local fire, police, and EMS agencies." With 240 million emergency calls placed each year in the U.S., according to the carrier, communications is the most important part of the emergency system. Mike Mayta, the CIO of the city of Wichita Kansas has first-hand experience of this. The city has a long history of getting hit by tornadoes and Mayta says, "Access to critical communications is vitally important for our first responders." This is important because 5G will be able to alert officers about the situation that they are walking in to faster than before. This gives them time to prepare and not be totally surprised about what they are about to face. Those agencies that have been verified (and are subject to re-verification) will receive unlimited voice, unlimited texting, and unlimited 5G data from T-Mobile's nationwide 5G network.
Mike Katz, T-Mobile's executive vice-president, notes that the wireless provider is able to offer the Connecting Heroes Initiative because of the extra capacity it will have thanks to the merger with Sprint. Katz says that T-Mobile will have more capacity than any other wireless provider in the country. As a result, "...we're able to take some of that capacity and use it for good where we have first responders that really need it." And they really need it. Mayta, Wichita's CIO, says that "When we're looking at budgets, those opportunities like the Heroes Program, that's gonna save us millions over the life of the program. Those millions can then be reallocated within the department to provide better services for the public." He adds that his city has been a T-Mobile customer for more than ten years and says that by offering this Heroes Program, the carrier is "walkin' the walk and not just talkin' the talk."
Other programs that T-Mobile announced back in November include Project 10Million. With this program, T-Mobile will provide free service, discounted handsets, and free hotspots to 10 million devices over the next five years. Many children in low-income areas face what is known as the "homework gap" because of their inability to access the internet. That's because 70% of teachers assign homework that requires a student to have an internet connection. Of the 35 million households in the country with children, five million do not have internet service. Kids without internet service have a hard time keeping up with their peers which is why Project 10Million is so important.
Speaking of children, just a couple of weeks ago T-Mobile's executive vice-president and CCO Janice Kapner announced that with schools closed because of the coronavirus, some children are missing out on meals that would normally be provided to them by the school district. As a result, the company has given over $4 million to Feeding America and the Boys and Girls Club of America and local schools to "keep vulnerable children safe and fed while they're out of school." T-Mobile is also looking to connect hundreds of thousands of students to the internet; these are children who don't currently have access to the internet.