New on McDonald's menu: Wireless surfing
The Borneo Post  13 July 2003, Sunday  

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SAN FRANCISCO: McDonald's Corp. has started serving up fast wireless Internet connections along with its menu of fast food.

In a step similar to one taken by upscale coffee retailer Starbucks Corp., the fast-food chain said it would launch the wireless service in 75 McDonald's restaurants in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. It plans to expand the programme to other cities later this year, including New York and Chicago.

"We serve a huge amount of pro­fessionals, and students and fami­lies," said Don Thompson, presi­dent of McDonald's western U.S. division. "There are millions of cus­tomers who want to connect."

Mc Donald’s will offer the wireless Internet connections through a part­nership with WayPort, a company that offers wireless Internet access, known as Wi-Fi, in hotels and air­ports, mostly to business travelers. The company did not disclose how much it would spend on installing the service.

The largest U.S. fast-food chain, which has been looking for ways to offset flagging sales, plans to charge $4.95 (RM 19) for two hours of the service to customers with a wireless enabled computer or other electronic device.

It said it will also offer additional promotions, such as a free connec­tion with a Big Mac purchase.

McDonald's said it sees wireless service in its restaurants as a natural extension of convenient service, which should appeal to students and professionals, while helping drive traffic during off hours.

Still, the move was met with some skepticism from some industry ana­lysts who noted that McDonald's lacked the upscale clientele that was most likely to take advantage of con­stant connectivity.

"With Starbucks, I think it's ter­rific because it does keep people in some of their stores," said Robert Goldin, a restaurant consultant with the market research firm Technomic Inc. "With McDonald's, I don't see it. The setting to me doesn't seem very conducive." - Reuters