McDonald's Will Complete WiFi Bake-off Next Year

We’ve noted before the odd fact that McDonald’s (unlike every other retail outlet offering WiFi) hasn’t signed up with a single provider. Instead, they’ve been testing various providers (such as Cometa, Toshiba and Wayport) in different locations in a kind of a “bake off” to see who will win and get the rest of McDonald’s business. Now, the company is saying that they’ll make the final call early next year. There’s a chance that they’ll go with multiple suppliers, but (as the article points out) winning a big deal with McDonald’s could be a “make or break” contract for a Cometa or Toshiba’s SurfHere operation. The other interesting decision to be made is the business model. I still think their original business model was the best (other than just offering it up for free – which has been shown to have pretty good return on investment). That plan gave a free hour of WiFi to anyone who ordered a value meal. That gets rid of the one fear many restaurants have – that people will just sit there all day (despite the fact that there’s very little evidence of that happening anywhere). Of course, it does add all the inconvenience of having to build a monitoring/billing system without the associated payment, and that could take away a lot of the upside.

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