PCs for People originally provided just the service in our name: PCs. Since opening in 2008, we pointed people to resources for Internet services, but were unable to find a low-cost option to provide at our office. Luckily in 2012 someone from the nonprofit Mobile Citizen caught a Star Tribune article featuring PCs for People and our mission. Mobile Citizen is committed to offering technology through educational and nonprofit organizations. In 2006 they had attained a 30-year agreement with Internet company Clear which provided Internet for nonprofits for as low as $10 per month, and now they wanted to partner with PCs for People.
In September 2012 PCs for People started offering Internet for clients through this great partnership with Mobile Citizen and Clear 4G. The first 150 customers got a deal that averaged less than $3 per month (unlimited data), and customers after that received the promised $10 per month services after the initial purchase of a modem. By the end of 2012, we had already connected 671 people. The number skyrocketed to 6,218 new customers throughout the year of 2013. As of today, we have distributed Internet to a total of 14,656 people, a huge help in providing new opportunities and closing the digital divide. In a survey of our clients, a mother of three said, “I struggled with trying to help my kids with their homework, and that was very depressing to me. They now can get the homework help they need online!”
Clear is going through a change this year which will affect the Internet and modems we distribute. Since July 2013, Sprint has owned Clear and its parent company Clearwire, but they recently announced that the Clear WiMax network will be decommissioned by November 2015. PCs for People will still provide Internet through Sprint for the same low monthly prices clients receive now. Our new project is to switch nearly 15,000 clients from Clear modems to Sprint ones, which will be for sale in our office later this year. One benefit for clients is the increased speed and coverage area of Sprint’s LTE and Spark network. Clear’s average download speed is 3-6 Mbps, while Sprint averages 6-8 Mbps. At peak speed, Clear reaches around 10 Mbps, but Sprint Spark can get as high as 25 Mbps. This will make it even easier for clients to do homework, research, apply for jobs, connect with others through social media, pay bills online and more.