• United States
Contributing Writer

Ronald McDonald serves up wireless access

Mar 18, 20032 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsWi-Fi

* Hotspots galore - where will it all end?

McDonald’s, the masters of upselling, will soon be offering you 802.11 access with your combo meals. The fast food chain is the latest to succumb to the lure of wireless LAN access as a way to attract and keep customers.

In a joint venture with Intel, “McWireless” will introduced in 10 Manhattan McDonald’s restaurants and hundreds more will be rolled out by year-end.

The pricepoint of wireless LAN at McDonald’s is incredible: the service is free with an Extra Value Meal and $3.00 an hour without.

This model plays into my prediction that wireless access will almost immediately become a commodity. It will be another feature rolled into a company’s marketing plan – not something that is expected to make money on its own.

I say this not because I don’t think wireless access is worth something, but because the bar has been set to use it as a mechanism to gather customers. Wireless access has already developed into something to help retailers get you to buy something else. It’s a virtual net for new eyeballs.

Therefore, it will be near impossible for a company to come out with a moderate-to-high priced wireless access network and succeed. I just can’t see that happening.

But I do expect to see a lot more restaurants, hotels, etc., offering it as almost a tchotke or reward for customers. Come stay at our hotel and get free wireless access. Come eat at our restaurant and get wireless access thrown-in. Roadside stops, shopping malls, etc., will all begin to advertise their wireless networks. I even read somewhere that churches were beginning to install 802.11 networks for their parishioners.

What do you think? Is wireless access debuting as a commodity? Or is there a model in there that will allow for it to be profitable in and of itself? Let me know at