Tel Aviv planning to go wireless

By Nathan Jeffay, March 24, 2011

London Mayor Boris Johnson has promised to provide wireless access citywide, but Tel Aviv may be about to outdo him.

Tel Aviv is going full steam ahead with plans to make the whole of the Mediterranean city wireless, and quickly. Last week it began a six-month pilot to turn the busy Ben Gurion Boulevard into a wireless zone, and as soon as it is finished, a citywide roll-out will begin. And unlike most cities in the world planning wireless networks, in Tel Aviv surfing will be free.

Alon Solar, the city council member who instigated the project, said that he views wireless as part of the service that a modern city should offer its residents. "I think that as well as keeping a city clean and such like, the municipality should provide for out-of-the-box needs of residents," he commented.

He said that providing internet is relatively inexpensive. The budget for the pilot project, including fixing routers to lampposts, is 100,000 shekels (£17,000).

He added that it will be especially beneficial to tourists, who often arrive in Tel Aviv with smart phones or laptops, but find that browsing via mobile networks is not supported outside their country of origin.

Mr Solar, 27, represents the Rov Hair party, which has three of the city's 31 council seats, all of them held by under-35-year-olds. It defines itself as transcending the normal left-right categories of local politics and rather promoting innovative ideas.

He said that his plan is to extend coverage to all business and residential areas. "All the world is progressing technologically, and I want Tel Aviv to be up-to-date and at the forefront in this area."

Last updated: 12:56pm, March 24 2011