AT&T will make good money on every schoolkid who signs up for the $15 “unlimited” wireless. The school will pay, saving collection costs. AT%T doesn’t need to offer phone discounts or spend much on acquisition. It requires additional advertising spend. The only apparent gotcha is a modest slowdown for some homes in the (surprisingly few) times of actual congestion. The connection should still be fast enough for a live video class.
AT&T, like most telcos, has far more wireless capacity than it can sell. Since at least 2014, wireless capacity has improved at a ferocious rate. AT&T & Verizon both estimate cost per bit is going down at 40% per year. Meanwhile, traffic growth has plummeted to 20%-35% per year. Result: telcos have an increasing surplus of capacity while spending the same amount. Even with 5G upgrades, most carriers expect capex to be flat or down.
Between 75% and 90% of U.S. unconnected kids can be reached by the existing networks in 2-3 months at moderate cost. That simple fact should push just about every proposal to “span the digital divide” on the backburner. Many will be seen as wasteful, except towers and backhaul in the 5% of the US currently dependent on satellite, called unserved. Europe and many other areas probably have a similar situation, but I don’t have confirmed research.
This chart is from Verizon’s CTO Kyle Malady. It shows the excess bandwidth (capacity margin) increasing in 2018 and 2019, despite slightly lower capex. AT&T and most other telcos in the developed world have similar capacity margins.
The marginal cost of a customer who will mostly be served by unused capacity is low, ~$3 per month for support calls and similar. If the current capacity is not enough, upgrading existing sites and backhaul will raise the marginal cost of adding a customer, generally to less than $7,
Networks, wireless or wired, are expensive to build. Once built, the cost of additional customers is low.
Here’s the pr
AT&T Enabling Connected Learning with Discounted Wireless Data Plans and Free Wi-Fi Hotspots
DALLAS, November 12, 2020
To Help Close Digital Divide for Nearly 17 Million Students, AT&T Offers Discounted Wireless Data Plans with Free Wi-Fi Hotspots and Makes $10 Million Commitment to Help Underserved Communities
Classrooms that take advantage of the offer receive free unlimited wireless service1 for teachers2; the new $10 million commitment helps students participate in connected learning by providing free devices and service
What’s the news? The COVID-19 pandemic has forced more than 50 million U.S. students to learn from home. Yet nearly 17 million children are unable to take part because their families don’t have an internet connection or device to support digital learning.
To help close the gap and enable connected learning, AT&T is offering discounted unlimited wireless data plans1 and content filtering services to more than 135,000 public and private K-12 schools, colleges and universities across the country for a limited time. Offer details include:
Schools can migrate existing AT&T lines or activate new lines for students on a qualified unlimited wireless data plan and content filtering service for $15 a month, with the additional option of an AT&T Moxee hot spot at no cost after bill credits.3 For every 24 qualified student activations above, schools can activate 1 line with the same services for a teacher at no cost after bill credits to help them do what they do every day as classroom superheroes.The offer is good through December 29, 2020 – schools that add at least one eligible line as part of this offer can also activate additional lines at the same price through December 29, 2022, at which point the promotional pricing ends.
In addition to the discounted plans for schools to connect their students, AT&T is making a $10 million commitment to support at-risk students disconnected from learning with internet connectivity and Wi-Fi hotspots. We will also expand availability of tech-enabled tools and learning resources for students, teachers, schools, and parents working across company resources, including WarnerMedia, for ongoing support for this initiative.
While the homework gap is not new, the pandemic and the critical need for remote learning has made it worse. This nationwide problem disproportionately impacts 1 in 3 students of color, as well as students with disabilities and students in rural and under-resourced neighborhoods. Additionally, 300,000 to 400,000 K-12 teachers live in households without adequate internet connectivity or home computing devices – roughly 10 percent of all public school teachers.4
What is AT&T doing for teachers beyond school-funded service? Teachers can still take advantage of our appreciation offer announced in July for exclusive savings on personal wireless service. This offer applies to both new and existing customers that are Kindergarten through post-secondary teachers, professors, instructors, and their families with a 25% savings on AT&T Unlimited Starter, Extra and Elite consumer wireless plans.5
How will AT&T’s $10 million commitment support education? Today, we’re committing $10 million to support our nation’s most vulnerable students, who don’t have adequate internet access and are disconnected from learning. There are an estimated 17 million public K-12 students falling into the homework gap due to COVID-19 school closures.
Together with Connected Nation, a leading non-profit helping communities solve their broadband and digital technology challenges, we’ll work to close the homework gap for struggling students by providing WiFi hotspots and free AT&T internet service. School districts and non-profits across the U.S. will be invited to apply for support in the coming weeks.
This commitment comes alongside a collaboration with global HR services and solutions firm Randstad to refurbish and donate laptops and other devices to keep students connected.
AT&T has a long history of supporting communities where we live and work. This new commitment builds on the $10 million Distance Learning and Family Connections fund we launched at the start of this pandemic. We’ve committed $600 million since 2008 to advance education and create opportunity, particularly in historically underserved populations.
What about safety protocols for school-provided student access? We understand that schools need affordable options including services to support their online safety protocols like those in the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). That’s why we’ve included content filtering options, which will help schools deliver safer on-ramps for K-12 and higher education users/devices connecting to the Internet. For schools looking to add device management, an additional option is also available at a discounted rate.3
What else is AT&T doing about the connectivity challenges in America? We continue to expand our connectivity efforts while working with stakeholders to develop policies that will help sustain and expand reliable broadband connectivity for all Americans.
What are people saying?
“There are many challenges to providing high-quality education to children nationwide. Inequities and other impediments can mean millions of kids don’t get a fair shot at succeeding in school. We are helping to bring innovative solutions to remove the barriers to learning. That’s critically important to the future success of students,” Anne Chow, CEO, AT&T Business.
“Millions of kids are struggling with their schoolwork because they don’t have internet access at home. Without access, assignments are a daily challenge, and this disproportionately affects children of color and those living in rural areas. This is one of our greatest challenges as a country and it’s going to take the collective power of businesses, industry, public policy and non-profits to make a difference,” said Tom Ferree, Chairman & CEO of Connected Nation.
“Many students are locked out of the classroom because they don’t have reliable internet access and connected devices. Closing this widening gap is the most important issue of digital equity that we face as a nation,” said Christine Fox, Interim Executive Director, State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA). “SETDA has been a strong advocate for ensuring equitable digital learning opportunities for all students since its inception. We commend AT&T for its commitment to addressing the homework gap and their partnership in pushing for critical change so that all students can succeed.”
“We are excited to support our students here in Atlanta with the rollout of this new offer from AT&T,” said Olufemi Aina, Executive Director, IT, Atlanta Public Schools. “As a strong advocate for digital inclusion, we also applaud the commitment to closing the Homework Gap and ensuring students have the tools they need for success.”
“Covid-19 has shown us that at-home internet connectivity is no longer a nice-to-have. It is a must-have. Without it, many students face an uphill battle in their education,” said Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy. “I am heartened by AT&T’s commitment to provide connectivity to these students and their families, which will help bridge the gap and give countless young people the tools they need to succeed in school and beyond.”
1 After 50GB of data use on a line, AT&T may temporarily slow data speeds if the network is busy.
2 Based on the average class size of 1 teacher to 24 students, schools will get one free (after bill credits) qualified line for a teacher for every 24 lines for students that are migrated to or activated on the qualified services. Taxes and fees are extra.
3 Req’s new line on Special DataConnect for Education plan ($14/mo. after credits) w/ Enterprise Traffic Protector service ($1/mo.) or AccessMyLAN ($6/mo. after credits) and elig. data-only device. AT&T Moxee offer req’s new line and $85 on 0% APR 24-mo. agmt. Free after credits over 24 months. If data svc cancelled, data plan and device credits stop & device balance due. Other fees, taxes, and charges & restrictions apply. See offer details.
4 Common Sense Media, 2020