Partnership to Provide Free Mobile Internet Access to 60 Chicago High School Seniors Now, Develop Affordable Services for up to 270,000 Residents Later

October 12, 2010
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CHICAGO (BUSINESS WIRE), October 12, 2010 - Please replace the release with the following corrected version due to multiple revisions.

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Partnership to Provide Free Mobile Internet Access to 60 Chicago High School Seniors Now, Develop Affordable Services for up to 270,000 Residents Later

Helping the City of Chicago extend technology access through its Digital Excellence Initiative, Sprint Nextel announced today it is supplying free Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go units with online service at no charge for 6 months to 60 Chicago high-schoolers who participated in this year’s inaugural Digital Youth Summer Jobs program.

The partnership between the City of Chicago and Sprint Nextel marks the first phase of an innovative commitment on Sprint’s part to help support Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Smart Communities program, a collaboration with community development group LISC/Chicago that aims to achieve “digital transformation” in five pilot neighborhoods with nearly 270,000 residents. Almost one-third of Chicago households are not connected to the Internet, and another eight percent lack the broadband speeds needed to fully utilize online resources. Going forward, Sprint Nextel will be able to offer its various services at lower prices to residents and businesses that are traditionally underserved by the telecommunications industry. The city helped Sprint identify the need for more affordable broadband options in the Smart Communities and connected the company with LISC/Chicago and other community-based organizations working on the ground.

“We’re excited to have partnerships with private sector companies like Sprint that help connect underserved youth in Chicago’s neighborhoods,” said Jason DeHaan, the city’s acting chief information officer. “Combined with the computers and summer job training we delivered through federal funding and community partnerships, Internet access will allow these students to continue to benefit from their experience into the school year.”

“In order to truly bridge the technology gap, students, schools and families must be able to access the Internet,” said Rich Alexander, Mobile Broadband Services director, “and private enterprise should join with government to expand these services to those who might otherwise face difficulties in participating in digital life. We’re honored to be a part of this innovative agenda from the City of Chicago and provide these students with broadband free of charge.”

The Novatel MC760 Broadband2Go USB device plugs right into PCs or Macs to provide 3G wireless broadband access on the nationwide Sprint 3G network. They are being deployed with six months of service at no charge this month to students in the Smart Communities: Auburn Gresham, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Humboldt Park and Pilsen.

“Sprint is very excited to add its prepaid Virgin Mobile brand to this innovative program,” said Kimberly Green-Kerr, Sprint regional vice president, Business Markets Group. “We are working with the City on several levels, exploring various ways to improve online access, speed and coverage choices; as well as advocating for the city with regard to potential Federal programs.”

Sprint’s prepaid brands also include Assurance Wireless, a government-subsidized program available now in 11 states that provides free wireless voice service for eligible low-income residents. “Cell phones and Internet access are no longer luxuries. People depend on wireless communications for emergencies, job searches and other everyday activities. We expect to add Illinois to the list of states where Assurance Wireless is available in the future, and hopefully expand the government’s vision to include making broadband services available as well,” added Green-Kerr.

About the City of Chicago’s Digital Excellence Initiative

Launched by Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2009, the Digital Excellence Initiative is a $25 million effort by the City of Chicago and many partners to ensure that all Chicagoans have the technological tools to compete and thrive in the 21st century. The initiative includes programs aimed at deploying broadband infrastructure, increasing technology adoption and developing applications of broadband technology in areas like healthcare, education and energy. Smart Communities, the City’s flagship broadband adoption program, is managed by LISC/Chicago and is supported primarily through grants from the federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the MacArthur Foundation. The Digital Excellence Initiative is a part of the City’s Department of Innovation and Technology. Learn more about the initiative at

About Virgin Mobile USA

Virgin Mobile USA, one of Sprint’s prepaid brands, offers millions of customers control, flexibility and connectivity through Virgin Mobile’s Beyond Talk™ plans for mobile phone service and prepaid Broadband2Go high-speed Web access. Virgin Mobile branded products are available at more than 40,000 retail stores, including Best Buy, Radio Shack, Target and Walmart. Top-Up cards are available at approximately 150,000 locations nationwide and can also be used for Broadband2Go services. Experience Virgin Mobile on the Web at Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and

About Sprint Nextel

Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served more than 48.1 million customers at the end of the second quarter of 2010 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, Common Cents Mobile and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. With its customer-focused strategy, you can learn more and visit Sprint at or and

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available:


Sprint Prepaid Group
Jayne Wallace, 908-607-4014
Sprint Business Markets Group
Candace Johnson, 317-660-2232
City of Chicago, Mayor’s Press Office
Bill McCaffrey, 312-744-4750