Multitasking 03/09/10 Yael Engelhart
Through it all, always one eye on the laptop. Photo by Yael Engelhart
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The Tel Aviv municipality will begin offering free and unlimited public wireless Internet for the first time next week, starting with a pilot project in the area of Ben-Gurion Boulevard.

The service will be extended in the coming weeks to the Gordon Beach and pool.

According to the municipality, it will examine the possibility of extending the network to other areas in the city, depending on results, demand and public satisfaction.

The wi-fi hotspots will emanate from several points along the street and have a speed of five megabytes. The city will block the downloading of large files and entrance into file-sharing sites. In addition, firewalls will be put in front of sites which offer pornography, gambling, or those which incite violence.

City council member Alon Solar (Rov Hair ), who initiated the public wireless network, calls it only a first step.

"The general idea is to spread it throughout the city, so that it will be possible to surf the net everywhere. The number of users is rising, many people have laptops, so that coverage of the entire city is the right thing to do," Solar said. "The project is not so costly for the municipality, and it is very valuable. It is a first step toward a more advanced city government, which is adapting itself to the technological world."

The city has budgeted NIS 100,000 to the project, only a part of which will be used in the first stages, and has already accepted in principle to extend it further.

Solar says that it will likely begin in Jaffa and the southern part of the city and continue northward.

Tel Aviv is not the first Israeli city supplying wireless Internet for free. The Jerusalem municipality began doing so in 2004 in the center of the city, and Haifa launched a similar project in 2008 on the Dado beach promenade.