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There are still parts of Rhode Island with limited access to broadband internet

Rhode Island has some of the fastest internet speeds in the country, but parts of Providence, Central Falls, and Woonsocket lag far behind

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Happy Wednesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I hope I never have to hear the phrase “you’re on mute” ever again. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 152,443 confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, after adding 13 new cases. The most-recent overall daily test-positive rate was 0.3 percent. The state announced two new deaths, bringing the total to 2,726. There were 32 people in the hospital, and 615,552 residents were fully vaccinated.


The US Commerce Department unveiled an interactive map last week that shows widespread disparities in access to broadband internet across the country – and there was mixed news for Rhode Island.

The good news is what we already knew: Rhode Island has some of the fastest internet speeds in the country, which allows us to easily stream old episodes of “Saved by the Bell” while downloading music and participating in Zoom calls.

The bad news is there are still communities in the state where more than 25 percent of households report having no internet access, including parts of Providence, Central Falls, and Woonsocket. The map breaks accessibility down by census tract, so you can pinpoint exactly where the state faces the biggest challenges.

For example, in parts of South Providence, more than 29 percent of households reported no internet access, and 22.6 percent of households reported having no access to a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

The Olneyville and Manton neighborhoods in Providence also showed large percentages of households without internet, although a new program from ONE Neighborhood Builders has sought to provide free Wi-Fi to the community.


Rhode Island and most parts of Southern New England are still in far better shape than other parts of the country, where broadband access is still deeply limited. In Rhode Island and across the country, high-poverty communities tend to have less access to the internet.

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the map “paints a sobering view of the challenges facing far too many Americans as they try to connect to high-speed broadband and participate in our modern economy.”

Raimondo and President Joe Biden’s administration have been seeking to expand broadband across the country as part of Biden’s massive infrastructure package. During Raimondo’s confirmation hearings, there was bipartisan support for improving broadband.


⚓ My latest column: Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is a right about the city’s ailing pension fund, and his plan to borrow $700 million to help it deserves a closer look from state lawmakers. Read more.

⚓ Newport has fewer than 100 officers patrolling the city, but they make multiple requests a week for online data from tech companies. This is a fascinating story about big tech and policing. Read more.

⚓ Governor Dan McKee on Tuesday said he is hoping the state can address the problems that prompted a national group to issue a preliminary denial of accreditation for Eleanor Slater Hospital. Read more.

⚓ State legislators will no longer get to cast votes on who can perform a wedding ceremony in Rhode Island. Read more.


⚓ While the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families will get an $11 million boost in the proposed budget going before the House on Thursday, several members of the House Oversight Committee and the union representing social workers said the agency also needs to be audited. Read more.

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Politics: My colleague James Pindell writes that the failure of the voting rights bill could be a sign that President Joe Biden is about to lose support on the left. Read more.

Health: In an attempt to prevent overdose deaths, Somerville might open a center where people can consume illicit drugs with medical supervision. Read more.

Pandemic: Here’s everything you need to know about the Delta variant of the coronavirus. Read more.

Sports: It’s not often you hear that baseball scouts are flocking to Vermont, but a high school pitcher there is getting plenty of attention. Read more.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

BIRTHDAYS: Rhode Map readers, if you want a friend or family member to be recognized on Friday, send me an e-mail with their first and last name, and their age.

⚓ Governor McKee and Woonsocket city officials will kick off a COVID-19 vaccine outreach program at 10:15 a.m.


⚓ The House Finance Committee will consider a bill that would allow West Warwick to join the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island.

⚓ The Providence School Board meets at 6:30 p.m. for an academic year in review.

⚓ Our editor, Lylah Alphonse, will be on Rhode Island PBS Weekly at 7 p.m.

⚓ Do you ❤ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here.

Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.