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The Almighty Buck The Internet Wireless Networking

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

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."
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US McDonald's Wi-Fi Going Free In January

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  • 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.

  • 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.
  • by FuckingNickName ( 1362625 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:37PM (#30489648) Journal

    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 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.
  • by wolrahnaes ( 632574 ) <.ofni.wolrahnaes. .ta. .naes.> 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.

  • 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 jbacon ( 1327727 ) <jcavanagh617@gEE ... inus threevowels> on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:41PM (#30489764)

    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.

  • by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:42PM (#30489778)
    Sue McDs? Will McDs have any filtering?
  • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:43PM (#30489808)
    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 tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:51PM (#30489952) Homepage Journal

    many other devices use Wi-Fi.


    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:53PM (#30489972)
    And yes, there are many people out there without a smartphone or who want slightly faster internet.

    Or people like me with a smartphone who have no data plan and have per-use data blocked because AT&T charges too damn much. Wifi works fine and is generally available most places I go. It's not like I can browse the web while driving down the highway anyhow.
  • Re:Meh... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:54PM (#30489998)

    Also, if you ever tried to convince airports to give free wi-fi, they'd wave their hands and claim it was a security risk to flights to have open wireless. Doesn't matter if it is true or not, the hand waving is sufficient

  • by Splintercat ( 1703448 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:56PM (#30490034)

    My city had the opportunity to have free city wide wifi (probably just for a year) because a local company was trying to start up and wanted to show off their service (and test their equipment). The city council decided the city's citizens were not interested in such a thing as wireless internet.

    One of our neighboring cities now enjoys said city wide wireless.

    Course my city decided that using a point to point wireless system using radio (maybe micro wave) was a great idea for their internal infrastructure.

  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @02:15PM (#30490396)
    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 who want their food fast, they will support your choice to eat it fast or slow.
  • 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.

  • by Zerth ( 26112 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @03:23PM (#30491488)

    I rather liked them as a kid when they were made with organ meat. They actually had taste then, unlike the "white meat, honest" ones of today.

  • 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).


  • 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.

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @08:33PM (#30495284)

    That's what we call "mechanically separated meat."

    Salamis made for hundreds of years could be described in a similar way but still taste good, as do the last bits of ham still stuck to the bone. If you are squeamish in any way it's best to only question where any meat product came from, only how clean it is. In Australia we have "seafood extender" which is tripe (cow's stomach) flavoured with the stock you get from cooking prawns (shrimp). I'm told tripe on it's own is fairly tasteless.
    The important thing if you have a lot of it is what nutritional value it has. That wagyu beef steak may be a choice steak but it may have more fat than the "mechanically separated meat", and if it's minced up it gets harder to tell the difference in taste.
    If we wanted something good we'd all go somewhere else, but McDonalds has the Microsoft approach of making something good enough and cheap enough. Every small fish and chip shop in Australia can make a better burger but it would cost more and be too large for small children.

  • by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @08:34PM (#30495296)

    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 luxury brands).

    The problem solved itself though, as there was no way I could afford to rent a place nearby for the rest of my course.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday December 18, 2009 @09:18PM (#30495532) Homepage Journal

    slice the potatos (leave the skins on, that's where most of the vitamins are)

    This is completely false. The majority of the nutrition in a potato is just under the skin. The skin itself traps toxins, and should always be discarded except perhaps in the case of organic potatoes.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!