In this Jan.10, 2015 photo, a mobile wireless internet hotspot lay on a desk among piles of books at the Free Public Library in New York. The New York Public Library is launching the nation’s largest Internet lending program, which provides 10,000 of these hot spots free for one year to some of the city's poorest residents. (AP Photo/Verena Dobnik)

In this Jan.10, 2015 photo, a mobile wireless internet hotspot lay on a desk among piles of books at the Free Public Library in New York. The New York Public Library is launching the nation’s largest Internet lending program, which provides 10,000 of ... these hot spots free for one year to some of the city's poorest residents. (AP Photo/Verena Dobnik) (The Associated Press)

NYC libraries offer free hot spots to 10,000 households _ many unable to afford Internet

Features Associated Press

The New York Public Library is launching the nation's largest Internet lending program, which provides 10,000 free hot spots to some of the city's poorest residents.

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It's helping close the digital divide between haves and have-nots. Qualified borrowers can hold onto the wireless devices for up to a year at a time. The service ordinarily would cost about $1,000.

Library president Anthony Marx says one-third of New Yorkers don't have home broadband service — a disadvantage for school, jobs and health care.

Rhode Island-based Mobile Beacon first piloted the library Internet lending model in Providence. The low-cost Internet provider then partnered with Sprint for the New York plan funded by $2 million in private grants.