updated 4/3/2007 8:35:37 AM ET 2007-04-03T12:35:37

The city's new mayor said he hopes to offer high-speed wireless Internet to all 8.7 million residents of this sprawling metropolis, even as it struggles to supply basic services such as water and electricity.

Marcelo Ebrard signed an agreement Monday with China's ZTE Corp. to set up wireless broadband "hotspots" linking schools, government offices and the city's thousands of surveillance cameras.

"The city government is giving this project the highest priority," Ebrard said, adding that the project will get off the ground within months.

Speaking later to reporters, Ebrard said he hopes the service can quickly be expanded citywide.

That could be a tall order in Mexico City, which already struggles to solve problems such as choking smog, snarled traffic and public utilities that are inconsistent _ and in some areas nonexistent.

Because of leaks, low pressure and over-exploitation of aquifers, whole neighborhoods still rely on tanker trucks to deliver water. Meanwhile, an aging electricity infrastructure causes frequent blackouts even in upscale districts.

Since taking office in December, Ebrard has announced ambitious plans to model Mexico City in line with trends in wealthier world capitals.

His government recently announced it would follow the lead of cities like Paris and Berlin in creating temporary artificial urban beaches for the summer. On Monday, he kicked off a campaign encouraging city officials to bicycle to work once a month.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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