The Tel Aviv Municipality launched a citywide free wi-fi network on Tuesday, which it said would provide 80 free Internet “hot spots” across the city.
The purpose is not for residents to cancel their Internet providers and surf for free on networks provided by the city.
Rather, they will be able to log on at dozens of spots around the city that mostly serve visitors, such as the beach, tourist attractions and boulevards.
Mayor Ron Huldai said on Tuesday that the project is part of making Tel Aviv “the startup city of the start-up nation.”
He did not discuss the cost, but an aide added that it was a NIS 6 million project carried out in collaboration with Motorola.
As of Tuesday, only 60 were up and running, Huldai said, but a further 20 – selected by voters on the municipality’s Facebook page, including Hatikva park and Cinematheque – are scheduled for completion in the coming weeks.
The system will operate on VDSL at 20/3 Mbps, and each spot will be capable of simultaneously serving 25 users at a speed of 500 Kbps, the city said Tuesday.
In May, the city unveiled “Digi-Tel,” which it billed at the time as a “digital revolution.”
The online system and the Digi-Tel card allow users to access municipal services and receive personalized updates on happenings in the city, based on personally selected preferences. The new wi-fi accessibility may give a business boost to local tech startups aimed at tourists.
“It’s quite remarkable. Where the city placed the wi-fi signs, we see users. It’s only been a few weeks now, but it’s really distinct,” said Uri Goldberg, cofounder of Chronus Imaging.
His company’s app, Chronus City, guides users on a series of self-paced tours around Tel Aviv, letting tourists explore the hidden side of the city on their own by using smartphones.
It also lets people create, upload and share their own tours.
The wi-fi, Goldberg said, helps visitors from abroad to avoid roaming charges while giving them the flexibility to decide which city sites to explore.
“I think the wi-fi really helps people explore the city and see new things because they have a means to do it, and for us it really helps because we’re about the same thing – exploration and discovery – and that’s what we want people to do,” he said.