Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv, a bird's eye view. Photo by Nir Kafri
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Yael Engelhart
A wireless internet user in Tel Aviv. Photo by Yael Engelhart

Web surfers may soon be able to speed down the information highway free of charge in most public places in Tel Aviv.

The Tel Aviv municipality plans to make free wireless Internet available all over the city. The municipal finance committee voted yesterday to allocate NIS 6 million to the initiative. The full city council is expected to give the plan a green light at its next meeting.

The decision comes after a successful pilot program that provided free, unlimited Internet usage on Ben-Gurion Boulevard and at the Gordon Beach for the past year.

The city will now lay down the infrastructure for broadband connections all along the coast, on major boulevards, in public parks and playgrounds, at commercial centers and along main roads. The bandwith will allow for basic Internet usage, not the uploading or downloading of heavy files. The municipality plans to block pornography and gambling sites, as well as any site that promotes violence.

The project's initiator, city councilman Alon Solar, of the Rov Hair party, said the benefit to the public from the project outweighs its cost.

"In the era of the smartphone and laptop, most of us want to be uninterruptedly available and connected," Solar said. "It's important that the municipality be attentive to its residents' needs, adapt itself to the city's dynamism, and provide residents and visitors with more than just the expected basic services."

Tel Aviv is not the first city to offer free wireless Internet to the public; Jerusalem made it available in the downtown area back in 2004 and Haifa installed a similar system on its Dado Promenade in 2008. But Tel Aviv will apparently be the first city to offer free Internet on such a broad scale.