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Burgers, Fries and WiFi

Techstination feature for Friday, August 8, 2003

Burgers, fries and WiFi. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. In New York, San Francisco and soon Chicago... McDonald's is testing WiFi... creating hotspots in its restaurants... where wireless access to the Internet is available. Senior director of business development Mark Jamison...

"What we wanted to do is have a very relevant customer experience in our restaurant and we looked around at the ways to do that. One of the things that we have are some of the most convenient locations anywhere. So by offering WiFi, we saw that as an opportunity to add a service to our restaurant experience that helps today's on the go consumers to connect to their work, their family and their friends."

McDonalds is working with Wayport on the west coast and Cometa Networks... launched by AT&T, Intel and IBM... in the New York area... making the service free during the month of August and 2.99 a day after that. At AT&T... consumer marketing director Diana Garcia Farrell says...

"You ask for a special card with a code at the desk... you sit down with a WiFi enabled laptop or PDA... you tap in your code, you follow the instructions..and you're off surfing."

The world's biggest restaurant chain says it doesn't expect to profit from the charges... but thinks WiFi will give it an edge in luring customers... especially business customers in... during meal time. I'm not sure how well ketchup and fries... and those sometimes messy burgers will go with laptops. And McDonald's faces competition... from the Starbucks coffee chain which offers WiFi through T-Mobile. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.