Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Almighty Buck The Internet Wireless Networking

US McDonald's Wi-Fi Going Free In January 376

Posted by kdawson
from the fries-with-that dept.
Knowzy writes "After five years behind a paywall, McDonalds plans to stop charging for its Wi-Fi in mid-January in the US. According to the Dallas Morning News, you aren't even required to make a purchase — 'free is free,' a spokesman said. It's also been widely reported that they won't impose time limits on your surfing. With around 20,000 free hotspots between McDonald's and Starbucks (who went free[ish] earlier this year), anyone still charging for Wi-Fi is going to look foolish, if not downright greedy."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

US McDonald's Wi-Fi Going Free In January

Comments Filter:
  • by SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:24PM (#30489430) Homepage

    Unsure how successful it has been in the UK though. Never seen anyone use it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Let's hope more big chains offer open WiFi in the UK. They have enough money to make sure such travesties as Pub fined £8,000 for customer's illicit downloads [guardian.co.uk] don't happen very often, by lobbying for laws to protect open WiFi providers.

      Which might one day protect you, dear reader!

    • by nametaken (610866) * on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:58PM (#30490080)

      It always seemed like McDonalds didn't want people to hang around anyway. They've always had horribly uncomfortable seats, cramped seating areas, unsettling colors (per color theory if you believe that stuff), etc. Even the PlayPlace ones seem mostly uninviting.

      I always just assumed that they didn't actually want people hanging out. "Get your burger and get the f* out".

      • by Zordak (123132) on Friday December 18, 2009 @02:44PM (#30490888) Homepage Journal

        In fact, I've heard that was Ray Kroc's original stroke of genius: serve consistent, mediocre food almost instantaneously, and deliberately make the place unpleasant and uncomfortable so that patrons didn't stick around too long crowding the restaurant (and thus preventing new patrons from coming in).

        Yes, I know, [citation needed] and all that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anne Thwacks (531696)
      Its not much use in the UK, because while you are using it, you will likely get a GBP60 fine for parking. Most McD's have clampers that get you if you stay longer than a set time - often 30 minutes! They even tried it on a judge (Google is your friend).
  • by JeffSpudrinski (1310127) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:25PM (#30489442)

    Free wifi won't make me eat a fried burger.

    Flame Broiled, or nothing.

    -JJS

  • You sit there long enough and a big mac and fries start to look pretty good.......
  • starbucks isn't charging for the WIFI. Some companies, however, are charging for the access. Panera does this - but I don't think they label it free wifi either.

    So yeah, you have wifi, free and open, but it's still requiring a purchase at panera to just use the damn internet (which is horribly slow at their locations anyway).

    • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:29PM (#30489514)
      Panera wifi is free. I just used it the other day.
      • by Ogive17 (691899)
        I think it depends on your location. Where I live (ohio) most chain restraunts have had free wi-fi for at least a few years. When I'd travel to LA, the same locations that offered it free in Ohio now charged.

        Of course it's more a novelty in my small city in Ohio.. very few people walk around carrying a laptop.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I've never been in a St. Louis Bread Co. (same company as Panera) and charged for access. They have a splash screen that you have to click "log-in" before you can get on and agree to their terms of service. But that has never required a purchase. Granted their web is useless for anything other than email and surfing to CNN and a few web sites as anything of interest seems to be block and they also seem to block ports like FTP/SSH starting a little over a year ago.

      Coffee shop I'm setting at now requires y

    • by charleste (537078)
      starbucks isn't charging for the WIFI
      Must be nice. The two closest starbucks do charge for wifi. So I go to a local coffee shop and buy a coffee to use their "free" wifi. It's still cheaper than just paying for starbuck's t-mobile wifi.
    • by Abreu (173023)

      Starbucks doesn't exactly charge for the wifi here in Mexico, but you must enter the user id and password you get in your purchase ticket. Several other places do that too.

      The only difference, is that Starbucks also allows you to plug in your laptop to the AC.

      So a lot of people buy a small cup of regular coffee and stay four hours in a comfy seats...

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:29PM (#30489498) Journal

    For everytime I wished I had Wifi when I was at McDonalds... I'd have the exact same amount of money I do now.

    You see, Coffee Shops like Starbucks make sense. Thats where you go to prop open your laptop, pretend to be a professional writer while blogging, while pompously talking to other "professional writers" over your Peppermint Mocha Extra Pump Extra hot no foam Chai Late Fusion Coffee.

    There is nothing Arrogant or pompous about pretending to write while stuffing down a big mac.

    • by macbeth66 (204889) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:36PM (#30489624)

      Peppermint Mocha Extra Pump Extra hot no foam Chai Late Fusion Coffee

      That actually made my teeth, brain and stomach hurt.

      Doesn't anyone drink a normal cup of coffee anymore?

      I use Dunkin' Donuts brand regular grounds in a Mr. Coffee.

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:38PM (#30489674)
      You have to realize though, even if you might not use your -laptop- there, many other devices use Wi-Fi. For example, people with iPod touches could go on Facebook or surf the web, same with people with a DSi, PSP, etc. And yes, there are many people out there without a smartphone or who want slightly faster internet.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tepples (727027)

        many other devices use Wi-Fi.

        True.

        same with people with a DSi, PSP, etc.

        If they block all incoming connections, block all outgoing ports except 80 and 443, and use an HTTP proxy on port 80, DSi and PSP multiplayer games won't work. Public hotspots already have to use some sort of filter to present the cover-your-anus TOS to customers. If sued over blocking practices, expect these Wi-Fi providers to advertise Web access instead of Internet access.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by King Coopa (1374689)
      It does make since as a marketing plot. It's just more reason for someone to enter a McD's who ordinarily would not. For example, I have an ipod touch. There are numerous times I've drove around in a different city where I had to keep a lookout for a Starbucks so I could use their wifi to look up an address on google maps. A few times I wound buying a cookie or something. Had they not had free wifi I would have never made those purchases.
    • by tepples (727027)

      There is nothing Arrogant or pompous about pretending to write while stuffing down a big mac.

      That's why I don't try to look arrogant or pompous when I work on code while I wait for slow eaters in the family to finish eating. I see three kinds of slow eaters: single-digit-year-old kids who got a Happy Meal and are still playing with their food and/or promotional toy, senior citizens whose worn-out bodies just do everything slowly, and senior citizens' nearly-senior daughters who like to gossip about various people's personal lives.

      • by kiwimate (458274)

        when I work on code while I wait for slow eaters in the family to finish eating

        In whose family? Your own? I can't imagine why you'd be waiting for slow eaters in someone else's family to finish eating, but then I also am finding it hard to imagine why you'd be so anti-social as to go out for a meal with your family and start coding during the meal.

      • while I wait for slow eaters in the family to finish eating.

        I would be characterized as a slow eater and if that annoys you, tough. Eating a meal is one of the few times one has during the day to relax and take your time. Granted, McD's can't quite be called a good meal, but regardless, eating a meal slowly is a surefire way not to eat too much and not get fat.

        People talk about living life to the fullest, how about enjoying it for once.
    • by chill (34294) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:54PM (#30489996) Journal

      Dress in a black turtleneck sweater and use a Macbook while talking (via bluetooth) on your iPhone. If you wear glasses, make sure to look over them, down your nose at other people and scowl protectively when anyone gets near your personal space. That'll make you look arrogant and pompous no matter where you go.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by FuzzyHead (86261)

      The parent must remember that McDonald's caters to a different class than Starbucks. Those people at McDonald's will pretend to be a amateur blogger, while pompously talking to other "amateur bloggers".

      Remember this is McDonald's, if they were real bloggers, they'd be at Starbucks.

    • You don't have kids, do you?
    • by residieu (577863)
      no foam? What is wrong with you? Foam is the one and only reason to go to Starbucks (the coffee itself isn't that great). Just give me a big cup of nothing but foamed milk. And another cup with HIS foamed milk, since he doesn't want it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The Japanese girls going to the language schools seem to love McDonalds wifi. They're the only reason to walk into a McDonalds.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:32PM (#30489558) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps to use the wifi, but you cant sit in the building or on the lot unless you bought something. " parking for customers only"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jbacon (1327727)

      Well, the word 'customer' does not necessarily imply that money must be spent. What the sign actually means is said person must be making use of or receiving a product or service of McDonald's. Since the free WiFi is offered by McDonald's, that would be a service offered by that company. QED, you may park.

  • Starbucks free? (Score:4, Informative)

    by kharchenko (303729) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:32PM (#30489568)

    Is it just me, or free wifi from Starbucks is just some wishful thinking? I've traveled to San Deigo, Denver and Boston in the past week and tried on several occasions to get wifi signal. And in each case, Starbucks was requiring me to pay. I don't know why I thought it was free ... may be it was trumpeted in some earlier slashdot article?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 18, 2009 @02:10PM (#30490314)

      Free for up to 2 hours (per-day, may not be split across multiple login sessions) if you've registered one of their Starbucks stored-value cards and you've used it to make a purchase sometime within the last 30 days.

      So more "free with purchase"-style.

  • Only terrorists......

  • by tixxit (1107127) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:37PM (#30489640)
    In my smallish city (200k people) we have had free wifi all over downtown for a while. All the businesses downtown are part of committee and they basically all agreed to provide free wifi; everything from Subway, to Starbucks, to some random bar. Seems like a good way to do it. If a business tried charging it'd just look ridiculous.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      Because you have to realize McDonalds is -everywhere- while you might be lucky to live in a city of 200K people and have lots of options, but living in a town about 7K, McDonalds is one of the few places with Wi-Fi for customer usage, out of the 10 restaraunts (including fast food) I think only about 5 have Wi-Fi avaliable, 2 are paywalls, 1 is secured (presumably for employee usage), and 2 are open (with the SSID of Linksys....).
  • by ScoLgo (458010)

    Meh... please notify me when wi-fi is ubiquitously free at airports.

    • Re:Meh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by smitty777 (1612557) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:47PM (#30489870) Journal

      Nice try, but that's a different market. At McDs, they want to lure you in and keep you there as long as possible. Even if you don't order anything, at least you will be immersed in their branding. The airport is just the opposite - they have a *captive* audience, and they're the only game in town. That's why a soda at the airport costs 5.00 while the same one at McDs costs $.79. Basic supply and demand.

      • by armyofone (594988)

        That's all true. I just find myself in airports without a free connection a lot more often than I find myself at McDonald's. That McD's are offering free wi-fi won't bring me in. Free wi-fi at airports, while not likely to happen for the reasons you mention, would still be much more useful - at least for me.

        • by Bert64 (520050)

          Fly in business or first class, then you get to use free wifi in the lounge..
          Failing that, just get a decent antenna and go sit close to the first class lounge and use it anyway.

      • by Abreu (173023)

        So, what happens when there's a McDonald's at the airport?

        (Actually, there's a Starbucks at my local airport, and Starbucks offers free wifi here... gotta try it next time I fly)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RedK (112790)
      I was waiting for a flight at Dulles International in Virginia just last week and the Boingo hotspot there was free. Google basically paid for wifi for everyone as a "holiday gift" (read, advertising). No strings attached either. Made the 2 hour wait less painful.
  • by King_TJ (85913) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:40PM (#30489732) Journal

    AT&T worked out a deal where the hotspots at McDonalds are partnered up with them, so iPhone customers can automatically get signed in and use them for free. It's been that way for months now. I've used the one in my neighborhood a number of times, as well as a couple of them when I was on a road trip.

    Only complaint I've had, in general, with Mc Wi-Fi is, I think someone needs to do site surveys on those things and improve the reception! I've always gotten pretty weak signals that are still generally usable, but worse than I get throughout most of my house with my own wireless router.

  • by wolrahnaes (632574) <seanNO@SPAMseanharlow.info> on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:41PM (#30489738) Homepage Journal

    Unrestricted free WiFi in places where one might be expected to be for some time (sit-down restaurants, conference rooms, hotels, waiting areas) makes sense. People are already sitting around bored and generally looking for something to do, so allowing them to get online with their laptop or smartphone and get stuff done or goof off is great.

    Starbucks and McDonalds business models are based on rapid customer turnover. Get 'em in, get 'em fed/caffeinated, get 'em out. People taking up the generally limited space for longer than needed cost them money. What makes sense for these type of places is "free" WiFi with purchase. Every receipt has a code printed on it valid for that day at that location which allows one hour of access. Ran out of time? Go buy a drink or something. I'd also recommend they partner up with one or more of the nation-wide hotspot networks to allow subscribers of those services to get on as well, as long as the payout to the local store makes sense.

    There are also a lot of McDonalds and Starbucks locations within a short distance of residential areas. I could see the local McDonalds' front window from my back porch at my last apartment. If they had offered purely open free WiFi, I'd sure as hell have tossed one of my cantennas up and used it as an extra internet connection.

    • people taking up the generally limited space for longer than needed cost them money.

      Actually, I don't think I've seen many McDonalds with limited space for eating. Yeah, there may be a line halfway out the door but there are usually still about 5 tables left.

      What makes sense for these type of places is "free" WiFi with purchase. Every receipt has a code printed on it valid for that day at that location which allows one hour of access. Ran out of time? Go buy a drink or something.

      Yeah, but what happens when it doesn't work? Good luck getting the high school drop-out a the cash register to do something more than power cycle the router.

      There are also a lot of McDonalds and Starbucks locations within a short distance of residential areas. I could see the local McDonalds' front window from my back porch at my last apartment. If they had offered purely open free WiFi, I'd sure as hell have tossed one of my cantennas up and used it as an extra internet connection.

      Yeah, but you might be one of the few. For one, putting up a cantenna isn't something most people are going to do. Most will simply look at the 3% internet connection, see th

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Belial6 (794905)
      You are wrong. McDonald's is based on having the purchase part be fast turnover. They are supportive of people hanging out at the McDonald's as long as they don't cause trouble. Just go to many McDonald's at opening. You will find half a dozen senior citizens who are just hanging out for hours drinking coffee. Tons of McDonald's have play structures. Certainly putting a playground inside your store is an invitation to stay awhile. Even more have free video game kiosks.

      No, McDonald's targets people
    • by Bert64 (520050)

      I work away a lot, sometimes i have people with me and sometimes not, but i invariably have to go and eat out somewhere.
      If i'm with someone else i'm happy to sit in the restaurant and wait for my food etc, since i can talk... If i'm on my own i want my food quickly, or something else to do while i wait.

  • by blair1q (305137) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:41PM (#30489744) Journal

    Nobody going into a McDonald's should be allowed to sit for more than the time it takes to scarf down the food.

    In fact, all McDonald's should be placed at the top of long flights of stairs; or better, escalators running backwards.

    • by fridaynightsmoke (1589903) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:53PM (#30489976) Homepage

      Nobody going into a McDonald's should be allowed to sit for more than the time it takes to scarf down the food.

      In fact, all McDonald's should be placed at the top of long flights of stairs; or better, escalators running backwards.

      And you should only be allowed to use your computer after watching wrestling, drinking a few beers and getting laid.

      You see, making sweeping generalisations about other people's lifestyles, and deciding unilaterally that you are right and they are wrong, is easy.

    • by selven (1556643)

      In fact, all McDonald's should be placed at the top of long flights of stairs; or better, escalators running backwards.

      With blackjack and hookers. In fact, forget the blackjack. And the McDonalds.

      Ok, I'm having a hard time imagining the remaining two put together,

  • Urban (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Itninja (937614) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:41PM (#30489758) Homepage
    So I guess all those folks living in apartment or condos right next to McDonalds will get free Internet access (albeit, minimal speeds). Or even better, a competitive fast food chain next door can set up an cantenna to leech bandwidth and then stick a 'Free WiFi!' in their window too!
  • by schwit1 (797399) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:42PM (#30489778)
    Sue McDs? Will McDs have any filtering?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by wadeal (884828)
      We've had this for years in Aus and there's no easy way to p2p, there's a nice filter stopping pretty much all mainstream porn sites etc.
  • ..they will still charge for extra ketchup and McNugget sauces.

  • Expect bright lights (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter (817932) on Friday December 18, 2009 @02:22PM (#30490534)

    I read somewhere that back in the 80's McDonalds in the US inner cities had problems with crack addicts. They'd stay all day, maybe buy a coffee or fries occasionally. Hardcore crack addicts don't eat much but they need small amounts of water, salt, sugar, caffeine and fat which were supplied by the coffee and fries. They smelled bad and were abusive and scared away the regular customers who'd spend more and leave quicker. The revenue per table hour started to drop in the crack addict infested restaurants. McDonalds Corporate was made aware of the problem and asked for directions.

    McDonalds is a bit like the bugs in Starship Troopers - lower level drones are able to implement policy and are interrogated about falling revenues but not trusted to make policy. That was done by MBAs - the McDonalds equivalent of Brain Bugs - in the headquarters. Now clearly forcefully evicting the crack addicts though possible would create a bad atmosphere. Studies were commissioned. It was found that crack addicts dislike bright lights but the good customers - people who wolf down this months's special premium burger supersize meal ("SwissMac Meal! With real Swiss Cheese!") and then got the hell out - weren't bothered by them. Or indeed anything else.

    A decision was made to increase the ambient light levels. The crack addicts left and revenues increased. My guess is geeks leaching wifi will need to be repelled in the same way, and for much the same reasons.

  • VOIP! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Deliveranc3 (629997) <deliverance@ l e v e l 4 . org> on Friday December 18, 2009 @02:22PM (#30490536) Journal
    Jesus when these go 802.11n there's going to be pretty serious municipal coverage.

    Android users (and apparently Nokia n900) are experiencing seamless voip integration... looking bad for the telecos!
  • by Grond (15515) on Friday December 18, 2009 @02:41PM (#30490846) Homepage

    I've noticed that, in general, the more expensive a place is the more likely it is to charge for WiFi. Hotels are especially bad about this. Inexpensive chains usually offer free WiFi whereas expensive hotels generally charge. Hiltons, in particular, often charge unbelievable rates: $15/night in some hotels. Far from competition bringing the price down, some have actually increased their rates over the years; $10/night used to be fairly standard. As best I can figure, they're targeting business travelers with expense accounts. For example, many hotels charge extra for the ability to use a VPN, which makes no technical sense but is a great way to price discriminate.

    I've also found that the terrible WiFi rates at many high-end hotels actually make sites like Priceline less useful. Yeah, you might get a great rate on a 4-star hotel, but when you figure in the cost of WiFi and parking it often ends up being nearly a wash. I think in the end it'll actually be the cell phone companies that kill overpriced WiFi. If you can use your tethered cell phone, why pay for WiFi? Sure a tethered data plan might be $60/month, but that's for 30 days compared to just 4 nights of WiFi at a Hilton.

    • by greyhueofdoubt (1159527) on Friday December 18, 2009 @04:25PM (#30492556) Homepage Journal

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willingness_to_pay [wikipedia.org]

      If you willing to dish out $500+ per night for a double queen room, then you're probably ok with $13 per night wifi and $32 cheeseburgers (Actual prices from a hilton I stayed at).

      I was sent on a short-notice (36 hours) emergency deployment to hawaii a while back; base housing was under construction so we had to stay downtown. I wound up living in the Waikiki Beach Hilton for about 2 months. That sounds great, and for the most part it was, but I was an E-5 living in an environment designed for the very rich. I had a nice view of the beach, yes, but like I said earlier the internet prices were outrageous. It turned out to be much cheaper to find a local t-mobile store and buy a usb wireless internet dongle. A month later I returned it and ultimately wound up paying only for the one month of service with no termination fee (under 30 days trial period).

      -b

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by xaxa (988988)

        I went to a university that happens to be in one of the fanciest parts of one of the most expensive cities in the world. They owned some nearby houses, which were rented to first-year students.

        It was cool to have a Lamborghini parked outside my window for a year, next to the Porsche and the line of BMWs and Mercedes. But the novelty wore off when I realised the nearby shops charged 50%-100% more than elsewhere (even the food shops -- although in their case the prices were the same, but they only stocked lux

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CSMatt (1175471)

      Hiltons, in particular, often charge unbelievable rates: $15/night in some hotels.

      I had heard they were promiscuous socialites, but had no idea they were hookers.

  • by SoundGuyNoise (864550) on Friday December 18, 2009 @02:44PM (#30490884) Homepage
    What is your Big MAC address? Have you enabled your Wi-Fry connection?
  • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Friday December 18, 2009 @06:47PM (#30494390)

    Some airports that have free Wi-Fi have seen an increase in people setting up Wi-Fi from the parking lots in an attempt to go on a Phishing expedition. They basically take advantage of people that don't really pay attention to what network they are connecting to.

    Anyone really expect McDonald's customers to check such things?

    McDonald's is simply making this as easy as possible. Buy a cup of coffee in the drive-thru, go back around to the parking lot, bait ya hook, and start Phishing.

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

Working...