Supersize Wi-Fi with your McDonald's burger?

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Suddenly Britain seems awash with WiFi. McDonald’s is to now offer free WiFi to customers in 1,200 of its UK outlets, in an attempt to lure customers away from rival food chains and coffee shops like Starbucks. In theory their free offer could save someone £260 a year, if they used paid-for WiFi for an hour a week (says McDonald’s).

The Cloud will provide the network, which is ironic since it recently struck a deal with mobile phone carrier O2 to provide WiFi for Apple iPhones as part of a customer’s contract. But that will cost them between £35-£55 a month for voice and data use. And last week BT took a stake in Spanish WiFi startup FON to allow its three million Total Broadband customers to roam across each-other’s hotspots and those of FON partners abroad.

However, before you jump to the conclusion that the UK will be full of people Skypeing and iPhoning their way across the country, consider this.

If McDonald’s users are required to log in with a full-blown browser they probably won’t be able to use their WiFi-enabled mobiles (assuming any McDonald’s customer actually owns a WiFi handset, of course). Which leaves you with the prospect of opening your expensive laptop in front of the McDonald’s hordes.

And don’t expect to see many iPhone or iPod Touch users in there either. The Safari browser in these devices is often locked out of these types of nodes. Time will tell when the network goes live.

Meanwhile, the prospect of using Starbucks T-Mobile WiFi network with your iPhone seems more alluring after all.

  • Aaron

    “If McDonald’s users are required to log in with a full-blown browser they probably won’t be able to use their WiFi-enabled mobiles (assuming any McDonald’s customer actually owns a WiFi handset, of course). Which leaves you with the prospect of opening your expensive laptop in front of the McDonald’s hordes.”

    Ill-researched nonsense. I’ve used the free wifi service in the French McDonalds restaurants – which seems to have been running for some time – and it works perfectly on wifi mobiles (such as my n95). In France, it doesn’t require people to provide a name or address – just accept the McD’s T&Cs. One click and you’re in.

    If your wifi handset can’t handle that then you’ve bought the wrong phone.

  • http://perfectpath.wordpress.com/ Lloyd Davis

    Mike, fear not, the Social Media Café will have absolutely free and easy to use wifi, no matter what device you choose to connect with – and we won’t make you have fries with that either :)

  • http://blog.snipperoo.com Ivan Pope

    God, I just wish McD would sort out the general horribleness of their premises. I mean, their coffee is not that bad – drinkable in an unpretentious inexpensive sort of way. But the smell, the grease, the unpleasant demeanour of the staff. Or maybe that’s just the Brighton London Road branch … home of the £1 superstore.

  • http://www.deepcalm.com Andy Croll

    They’ve also been doing free wifi in Singapore (alongside France I note from the previous comment) it seems to work there in terms of foot traffic through the door… kids do their homework and big kids have meetings / play WoW until the early hours from what I can tell.

    Plus I think they’re rolling out less plastic-y seats and layouts inside some of their stores. It looks like a primary-coloured Dr Evil lair with burgers if the newly refitted Balham branch is anything to go by.

  • http://www.spy.co.uk/ Nico Macdonald

    I have never had a problem — let alone trouble — with using my laptop among the McDonald’s ‘hordes’. And McDonald’s has the merit of being open all hours, unlike Starbucks.

  • http://www.radio-edit.co.uk Duncan

    Don’t you think you’re being a little elitist here? McDonalds ‘hordes’? And the comment about McDonalds customers not owning WiFi phones? The N95 is free on O2 now, remember, and they’re everywhere all of a sudden!

  • Mike Butcher

    Nevertheless, given their legendary low-rent oeuvre, give me a McDonald’s in Singapore or France any day over one in the UK. The N95 is indeed a great phone – assuming you can get it to work longer than the half an hour the battery will allow, according to the 95% of my contacts who own one.

  • Scot

    “Nevertheless, given their legendary low-rent oeuvre”

    You should try some of the refurbished outlets (like the one on the Strand). Some of them are now better looking and more comfortable than some Starbucks I’ve been to.

  • http://bowblog.com Steve Bowbrick

    This is pretty canny. There’s a McDonalds on my route to work (on an A-road) which is heaving with reps and other mobile workers using laptops to go online already. It’s also lately been refurbished and it’s all kind of Philippe Starck and lovely. I guess this is likely to be more important for these suburban and trunk road McDs than for the High Street variety.

  • Dan

    Which leaves you with the prospect of opening your expensive laptop in front of the McDonald’s hordes.

    Good humor.

    Dan

  • Hermatic Fanatic

    Mc.Donalds, Ooohhh God No !!!!

    Muck Bollock’s…. Card Chip’s, and 100% Horse Burger thinner than a five years olds….

  • http://blog.snipperoo.com Ivan Pope

    I think a more pertinent comment here would be – let’s hope this drives Starbucks out of their preposterous ‘£5 to use wifi while you drink our preposterously expensive coffee’ and into the free wifi camp …

  • Nic Fletcher

    Guys… how elitist and snobbish can you get? This is all about market forces – nothing more. And although I respect the author, I do dislike the comment about opening laptops in front of McDonald’s hordes or their customers not having WiFi phones. Have you never eaten in a McDonald’s? Does your phone not have WiFi? And it only take a moment on my N95 to login on my browser (and then I have Truphone as well).

    But my main point… why all this anti-Starbucks stuff? You don’t have to drink in Starbucks… it’s a free world. I pay £10 a month for unlimited T-Mobile WiFi per month (I acknowledge that is discounted as I am T-Mobile mobile customer as well). It also gives me Manchester airport. So now, when working for home, I can drink good coffee, listen to some good music, and get a break from my home in a local Starbucks. All for £10 a month. Not £5 per hour. When Starbucks make poor coffee, play poor music, don’t have a nice atmosphere, then maybe I’ll go to McDonald’s to work instead!

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