In low-income Olneyville, a free Wi-Fi program could be a game-changer for families

Like many low-income families across the city, Brice didn’t have the budget for a high-speed internet connection, which can range anywhere from $30 to $100 a month depending on the quality.

“These are the things that make the difference between clean clothes and food,” Brice said. “Having cell phone access was more important.”

Brice was fortunate. Her employer wound up covering the cost of the family’s internet connection, and many schools provided students with a laptop or tablet to take home.

But as the lack of a reliable internet connection moves rapidly from being an inconvenience to a threat to one’s livelihood, momentum is growing in cities around the country to offer affordable – or free – Wi-Fi to residents.

In Providence, the first organization to step up with a plan was ONE Neighborhood Builders, a community development organization known primarily for building affordable housing, which is hoping to launch

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