ONE Neighborhood Builders unveils data on digital equity model

PROVIDENCE – An equity-focused WiFi service overseen by ONE Neighborhood Builders has seen a significant growth in usage since its launch in 2020, the nonprofit found in a newly-released report on the initiative’s impact.

The broadband service, ONE|NB Connects, has seen monthly users of the community WiFi platform increase 7-times since its establishment in Providence’s Olneyville neighborhood, the organization detailed in a case study.

The Olneyville neighborhood demonstrated a high need for increased broadband access, ONE Neighborhood Builders found, with almost three out of four households in this coverage area lacking in-home access to high-speed internet.

ONE|NB Connects 100 mbps upload and download speeds to users, facilitating streaming, virtual meeting participation and gaming, the organization says. The program currently provides coverage to about 35% of Providence’s Olneyville neighborhood, and has served more than 2,600 unique IP addresses.

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High-speed internet access is “a necessity in today’s world,” ONE|NB Executive Director Jennifer Hawkins said in a statement.

“Students need access in order to keep up with classwork and participate if and when schools shift to remote learning,” Hawkins said. “Adults need it to stay connected with their jobs and keep up with job training that will open the door to new opportunities.

“We believe that accessible broadband needs to be a part of every one of our housing developments going forward,” she continued, “and we hope that ONE|NB Connects can provide a model for how developers, local, state, and federal leaders and telecom utilities can work together to close the digital divide.”

The project cost less than $475,000 to establish, ONE|NB says, and will cost around $80,000 annually to maintain. Multiple organizations contribute to the project’s funding, including United Way of Rhode Island, Bank Newport, LISC Rhode Island and others.

The program also received CARES Act and Community Development Block Grant funding from the state.

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at