(The Hosting News)-Fast food giant McDonald’s will soon begin offering free wireless Internet access at its U.S. restaurants. This is part of a plan to make its locations feel more like a “hang out” location instead of a fast hamburger joint.
“We’re not just about hamburgers,” said Dave Grooms, chief information officer for McDonald’s USA, AP reports. “We are about convenience and all kinds of value.” The company, the world’s largest fast-food chain, has offered Internet access for about five years.
In mid-January, it will lift the $2.95 fee it has charged for two hours of Internet access at 11,000 of its 14,000 U.S. locations. There will be no time limit after the fee is lifted, according to the same source. “McDonald’s is about value â€” value in our food, value in our services,” Grooms said. “It’s a natural fit.”
The plan is to use free Wi-Fi as a tool to encourage customers to stay in the restaurants between meals and hopefully buy McCafe coffee drinks and the new line of smoothies and frappes, Macobserver.com reports.
The free access comes under a partnership with AT&T(T Quote), which provides McDonald’s stores with wireless Internet, The Street informs.
The Morning News quotes AT&T saying its 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, according to PC World. Terms of the deal between AT&T and McDonald’s were not disclosed.
Macobserver.com reports that the decision to offer free wireless Internet access could be a move on McDonald’s part to compete with Starbucks and other coffee chains for between meal customers. McDonald’s plans to roll out its free Wi-Fi program in mid January across the United States.