Not even the Dollar Menu can top this deal. Road warriors who stop at McDonald’s for a quick cup of joe and/or a snack now can get online and access USENET free of charge. Starting in January, McDonald’s fast food restaurants will become one of the nation’s largest providers of free Wi-Fi Internet access, according to online newsgroups.
Beginning in January 2010, McDonald’s will offer its in-store Wi-Fi service for free, according to reports from various USENET newsgroups. The move is one designed to generate more food and drink sales by luring customers away from coffeehouses and toward the company’s McCafe, especially during between-meal times. The chain will also begin selling frappes and smoothies next year, a snacking appeal that the company hopes will also benefit from the free Internet and USENET access.
The news comes a day after Verizon Wireless began offering free Wi-Fi services to subscribing customers in the United States, Canada and Mexico. In addition to pleasing customers, the move is seen as a way for Verizon to keep its data network nimble as more customers sign up for smartphones and data services. McDonald’s currently charges $2.95 for 2 hours of Wi-Fi service, which is run by AT&T, since it bought Wayport. The newsgroups report that AT&T public Wi-Fi access points have already been used more than 51 million times during 2009, more than double the number of connections during all of 2008.
“We’re not just about hamburgers,” said Dave Grooms, McDonald’s CIO, in a statement to the AP. “We are about convenience and all kinds of value. McDonald’s is about value — value in our food, value in our services. It’s a natural fit.” The restaurant has 14,000 domestic restaurants, and is the largest Wi-Fi network among restaurants in the U.S. The free coverage will be available in McDonald’s approximately 11,000 locations in the United States, as well as those in Canada that currently offer Wi-Fi. Also to note is that Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo are offering free Internet at some locations (including airports), for limited periods of time.