A new study shows that more and more homes are likely to get WiFi connections. This seems like one of the more obvious predictions around, but it's still interesting to look at the numbers. The study points out that there are currently about 100 million broadband connections to the home worldwide - and only 5 million home users have WiFi. However, with the technology getting cheaper every day, and the clear benefit of having a wireless network in the home, it's likely to grow pretty rapidly (and, of course, that 100 million number isn't static either). This leads to two thoughts: (1) we still need to make setting up a WiFi network easier. Early adopters will mess around with finicky access points, but most users won't. It really needs to be plug and play. (2) Once more homes get WiFi, expect the unexpected in how they're used. Just like businesses are discovering - once that wireless network is there, there's no reason not to use it for other purposes as well. More devices are going to come with WiFi, and if they can just hop on an existing network, people are going to come up with all sorts of creative uses. Meanwhile, McDonald's continues their "we'll test a different location every few months" rollout of WiFi, as they've agreed to WiFi up over 500 restaurants in the UK. It looks like they're just teaming up with BT to be a part of BT's Openzone WiFi offering. That doesn't seem like the best choice, since already there are (reasonable) complaints that Openzone's pricing is way too high for what people get. In early tests in the US McDonald's was using a very smart pricing plan (buy a meal, get an hour of free service). It's unclear why they're not going with a similar plan in the UK. By offering up service with a meal, the internet access becomes a promotion to get more people into the restaurant. By charging insanely high fees for it, it doesn't bring in too many extra people, and certainly won't bring in much money.
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