Mobile Beacon Milestones

Creating Opportunity Through Connectivity

The internet is a powerful enabler for social change; yet, many community anchor institutes lack the high-speed broadband they need to fulfill their missions. Mobile Beacon is dedicated to providing schools, libraries, and nonprofits the affordable connectivity they need to maximize their philanthropic impact and better serve our world.

Our History & Impact

Mobile Beacon was created by the North American Catholic Educational Programming Foundation (NACEPF), 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and the second-largest national Educational Broadband Service (EBS) provider in the United States. Our programs and services are a natural extension of the mission of EBS, to leverage broadband to bring equal educational and digital opportunities to all Americans. Since 2010, we’ve helped thousands of community anchor institutions across the country get reliable internet access and extend the broadband service to the communities they serve.

 

2010

Mobile Beacon is born!

We created a unique broadband service exclusively for educational and nonprofit organizations that include high speed, anytime/anywhere access, and unlimited data for just $10/month.

Reached our first 100 customers!

In our first year, community anchor institutions across all sectors started using our service including schools, libraries, nonprofits, and emergency response teams.

2011

Created the Connect for Success Student Access Donation Program for schools.

This grant provides schools with up to 25 laptops, 4G mobile devices, and free, unlimited, high-speed internet service for 12 months. This program is 100% self-funded and gives schools the tools they need to close the homework gap.

Received the Bridging the Gap Vertie Award.

Mobile Beacon received the Vertie Award for demonstrating a resourceful approach to high quality, technology-based education through our Connect for Success program – one of the only programs of its kind to help schools address the homework gap.

Mobile Beacon’s educational grants top $1,000,0000 in 2011!

Our Connect for Success Student Access Donation Program and security system grants provided more than $1,000,000 in donated hardware and free internet service to public/private schools, school districts, and higher education institutions in 50 cities across the US.

2012

Launched the First Broadband Donation Program for Nonprofits on TechSoup.

Mobile Beacon was the first mobile broadband service provider to partner with TechSoup to make broadband more affordable for nonprofits through our 4G device donation program. This donation program is 100% self-funded and provides free 4G devices to 501(c)(3) nonprofits, schools, and public libraries across the US.

Community Wi-Fi Project.

Mobile Beacon teamed up with the City of Central Falls, RI to light up Jenks Park with free Wi-Fi access for residents and visitors during the Bright Future Festival. It was the first public Wi-Fi project of its kind in the state.

Pioneered Library Hotspot Lending Program

The hotspot lending program started with the Providence Community Library. For the first time, it allowed library patrons without internet access in their homes to “borrow the internet” with our 4G mobile hotspots the same way they could check out a book.

2013

Launched 4G Device Donation Program for Schools with Digital Wish.

Mobile Beacon partnered with Digital Wish to create a 4G device donation program for schools to further reduce the cost of connectivity. These donations are 100% funded by Mobile Beacon and help schools by providing WiFi in the classroom, mobile connectivity on field trips, and an affordable means to provide out-of-school connectivity to students without internet access at home.

Selected as SETDA’s Emerging Private Sector Partner.

The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) selected Mobile Beacon as one of its inaugural private sector partners in recognition of the value our broadband service provides to educators across the US.

2014

Created the i3 Internet Inclusion Initiative.

Mobile Beacon’s i3 Internet Inclusion Initiative partners with schools, libraries, and nonprofits to close the digital divide in their communities. To date, we’ve helped over 300,000 Americans get online, including vulnerable populations such as low-income families, seniors, and adults with disabilities.

Launched the largest library hotspot lending program in the US

with Sprint, New York Public Library, Queens Library, and Brooklyn Public Library. 10,000 4G LTE hotspots circulate throughout 88 library branches across New York City’s five boroughs supporting K-12 students and low-income adults enrolled in an educational program at one of the participating branches.

2015

Became a charter member of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA),

a coalition advocating for technology training, home broadband access, and public broadband access programs.

Developed the Wi-Fly Digital Inclusion Grant program

to provide community anchor institutions with free, unlimited 4G LTE mobile connectivity and laptops to help close the digital divide in their communities. Mobile Beacon’s inaugural Wi-Fly pilot sites included Kitsap Regional Library in Bremerton, WA, and a unique collaboration between Kansas City Public Library and Kansas City Public Schools to address the 70% of students in Kansas City without broadband connectivity at home.

Stopped Sprint from shutting down its WiMAX network

and effectively leaving hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Americans without internet access. Today, because we fought to protect our customers, they transitioned to Sprint’s 4G LTE network and continue to receive unthrottled, uncapped internet service through Mobile Beacon.

Partnered with digital inclusion nonprofit PCs for People to launch Bridging the Gap

in the Twin Cities, MN. In its first year, this program provided affordable home internet access to 2,500 individuals and families below the 200% poverty level.

2016

Converted our clients to LTE in 90 days.

Mobile Beacon created and funded the Convert & Connect device donation program to help our customers make the transition from WiMAX to LTE. We provided more than $600,000 worth of donated 4G LTE devices and transitioned 73% of our clients in just 90 days.

Bridging the Gap Goes National!

Building on the Bridging the Gap’s success in closing the digital divide in the Twin Cities, Mobile Beacon and PCs for People launched a national platform that provided home internet access to more than 23,000 individuals and families below the 200% poverty level.

Collaborated with 12 Bridging the Gap Partners in Denver, CO to Close the Digital Divide and Homework Gap

Mobile Beacon and PCs for People’s new Denver office partnered with 12 educationally focused nonprofits and schools to provide 715 free computers/laptops and 925 donated 4G LTE mobile hotspots to schools, nonprofits, and educational institutions in the greater Denver area.

Wi-Fly Digital Inclusion grants awarded

to Rockford Housing Authority in Illinois, Life Skills Training & Educational Programs (LifeSTEPS) in California, Chelsea District Library in Michigan, and Bartram High School in Pennsylvania to launch new digital inclusion projects in their communities that will reach their most at-risk residents who have limited or no access to technology.

2017

Executive Director selected for Providence Business News’ 40 under forty. Mobile Beacon’s

Executive Director, Katherine Messier, was chosen as one of Providence Business News’ 40 Under Forty winners.

Wi-Fly Digital Inclusion grants awarded

to Low Income Housing Institute in Seattle, WA, and Foundation Communities in Austin, TX to develop new digital inclusion projects in their communities that will reach their most at-risk residents who have limited or no access to technology.

Released two groundbreaking research reports

examining the societal impact of uncapped mobile broadband service versus capped access. Mobile Beacon published two research reports, one detailing how community anchor institutions use our service to benefit communities and the impact Bridging the Gap’s uncapped home broadband service has had on low-come families. Read the reports here.

Awarded Providence Business News’ Most Innovative Nonprofit.

Mobile Beacon was named Rhode Island’s most innovative nonprofit by Providence Business News.

Launched a disaster recovery program

to aid in the rebuilding process for organizations affected by the hurricanes in Texas, Georgia, and Florida. Additionally, Mobile Beacon provided monetary support to the Houston Food Bank and All-Hands. Learn more.

2018

EdTech Digest’s Cool Tool Winner.

Mobile Beacon was named EdTech’s Best Mobile Device Solution for Education because of the incredible value of its uncapped data plans and mobile device options that provide anytime, anywhere learning opportunities. Additionally Mobile Beacon was a finalist in the IT networking, connectivity, or access solution category.

Expanded disaster relief program.

Mobile Beacon expanded its original Disaster Relief program to support community anchor institutions in selected counties in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina after hurricanes ravaged their communities.

Bridging the Gap program

Mobile Beacon and PCs for People hosted Bridging the Gap technology distribution events in Austin, TX, and La Junta, CO distributing 297 computers and 163 mobile hotspots to low-income individuals and families without access to technology in their homes.

2019

Led a Comprehensive Advocacy Effort to Save EBS

Mobile Beacon led an advocacy effort in the FCC rulemaking proceeding, Transforming the 2.5 GHz Band, to preserve the educational nature of the only broadband specifically reserved for education, together with national educational and digital inclusion advocacy organizations including the Schools, Health, and Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB), American Library Association (ALA), The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), the National EBS Association (NEBSA), and Educators and Broadband Providers for American Rural Communities (EBPARC).

The advocacy work included Hill briefings, the commission of an economic study that compared the economic benefits of continuing to offer EBS licenses to educational institutions vs auctions the spectrum to commercial entities, a grassroots campaign that led to more than 2,000 calls and letters to members of Congress, and 830 signatures on a letter of support to the FCC. This effort resulted in bipartisan Congressional support with 20 members of Congress as well as the US Department of Education contacting the FCC in support of keeping the EBS spectrum band educational.

Mobile Beacon Joins 4Competition Coalition

Mobile Beacon joined the 4 Competition Coalition advocacy effort to bring awareness of the lack of commitment by T-Mobile to honor existing EBS leases and the harm that would follow if those terms were not followed. Mobile Beacon detailed the public interest benefits of its EBS leases and the need to protect the vulnerable populations that rely on Mobile Beacon’s service today.

New Bridging the Gap Distribution Events Provide Technology to 800 Students and Families

Mobile Beacon and PCs for People worked with 31 new Bridging the Gap partner schools to distribute 879 computers and 606 mobile hotspots with three free months of internet service to over 800 students and their families in seven communities across the country: Youngstown, OH, Toledo, OH, Waco, TX, Temple-Killeen, TX, Emporia, KS, Salt Lake City, UT, and South Bend, IN.

New Connect for Success Grants Awarded

Mobile Beacon awarded 46 schools in 26 cities with Connect for Success grants in 2019 totaling over $690,000 in technology donations to help close the homework gap.

2020

COVID-19 Pandemic Response

Mobile Beacon signed the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge ensuring no one loses internet access from an inability to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Launched HomeWorks Pilot in Tombstone, AZ

Mobile Beacon built and launched its first fixed broadband network in southeastern AZ. This new service is being offered initially through its HomeWorks pilot program (May 2020 through June 2021), which will provide free internet access to participating schools and free home broadband connectivity for participating teachers and students.