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AT&T Launches Fast-Food WiFi

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MORRISTOWN, N.J. -- AT&T today announced the next phase of a major wireless fidelity (wi-fi) initiative -- the launch of its new AT&T Wi-Fi Service, offered free beginning July 30 in 60 McDonald's restaurants in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Any McDonald's customer with a wi-fi-enabled device in one of these locations can obtain high-speed Internet service at no charge until the end of August and at $2.99 a day thereafter.

AT&T Wi-Fi Service enables computer and personal digital assistant (PDA) users to surf the Internet, send and receive e-mail and obtain a host of other high-speed wireless benefits without being tethered to wires.

"AT&T is using a creative array of approaches, partnerships and resources to make the promise of the worldwide web available to all kinds of customers -- people on the go, 'windshield warriors,' students and families ... anyone who wants the connectivity and convenience that AT&T offers," said Ray Solnik, Strategic Markets Vice President at AT&T Consumer.

Solnik noted that AT&T will provide the "face to the customer" when an Internet user logs on to AT&T Wi-Fi Service at McDonald's, ensuring the customer's experience is top-notch.

The AT&T Wi-Fi Service launch includes selected McDonald's outlets in Manhattan, Staten Island and parts of Westchester County. It also includes towns such as Edison, Middletown and Tinton Falls in New Jersey, and Danbury, Fairfield, and Stamford, Connecticut.

AT&T's approach to wi-fi is multi-faceted. In December 2002, it helped form Cometa Networks, a joint venture company that provides national wireless Internet access at a variety of retail locations throughout the United States. For Cometa, AT&T provides wi-fi networking services such as local access, Internet transport, network control, monitoring and management, as well as provisioning. Cometa, in turn, aggregates wi-fi "hotspots" so service providers such as AT&T can offer its customers wireless access to the Internet and their corporate networks.

Earlier this month, AT&T announced the integration of Wi-Fi as a broadband access option for customers of AT&T's industry-leading IP VPN services. Through a business relationship with access aggregator GRIC Communications Inc., AT&T IP VPN users can get wireless access from more than 2,100 hotels, airports and convention centers in at least 20 countries.

Solnik underscored the fact that AT&T will craft other agreements as necessary in order to ensure customers get the full benefits of wi-fi. "This is a technology that could make the benefits of the Internet more accessible," he added, "and nicely mirrors our mission of providing information and communications anytime, anywhere."

According to Parks Associates, there will be as many as 2.5 million wi-fi users in the U.S. by the end of the year. Another researcher, the Yankee Group, predicts 72,480 "hotspots" in the U.S. by 2007.

AT&T Corp.

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:42:28 PM
re: AT&T Launches Fast-Food WiFi
Some of those mcdonalds might be on the interstate (I-95) rest stops. That might have a little value.
Still, I am skeptical very skeptical. My guess is that the only thing that will exceed the hot spot rollout hype will be the hot spot take down de-hype which is sure to follow in a few years.

User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:42:13 PM
re: AT&T Launches Fast-Food WiFi
I am intriqued by the wireless models being proposed, but is a fast food restaurant the right place? At what point do we say "give it a rest" and enjoy our meals? Plus, how do we conduct our business/leisure communications while Ronald and the host of kids romp nearby? For the restaurants, perhaps a meal is in the offering, but do we really want all those seats taken up for hours at a time? I would assume a Starbucks, Borders, or other establishment would be more in tune. I wish good luck to both the internet provider and the restaurant, but question their marriage.
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:42:07 PM
re: AT&T Launches Fast-Food WiFi
See, I'm waiting to see how this all pans out. I actually don't think its a terrible idea on Mickey's D part -- they want to try and go a bit further upmarket and they're trying to do it with WLAN and salads!

Now, I know in NYC or LA or San Fran you're probably not going to want to spend too much time in the restaurants, but if they eventually roll it out country-wide then business people outside of the metropolitan areas will know they can get wireless access at McDonalds, I think people are much more likely to set up meetings in McDonalds out in the sticks (as it were).

The question is, will the rollout ever get that far? I don't know the answer to that yet.

I wonder how much McDonalds is actually paying Cometa and Wayport for the pilot schemes they're running. I guess that it will all come down to cost in the end.

DJ Unstrung
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:41:53 PM
re: AT&T Launches Fast-Food WiFi
How do we know McD's is the one paying for the pilot? ;)
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:41:52 PM
re: AT&T Launches Fast-Food WiFi
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:40:50 PM
re: AT&T Launches Fast-Food WiFi
I believe you are correct with the remarks about the larger size cities (SF, LA, CHI, etc), but I do not feel this will pan out in the smaller cities and towns either. If you've been there in the mid-mornings/afternoons, it is the hangout of the retired-generation. A gathering spot for a generation that does not surf the cyberworld. Perhaps a local chamber meeting? They will get together and discuss chamber business over pancakes/hamburgers/salads. Where's the need for WiFi when George or Betty are sitting there with you? At breakfast time or lunch time? Far too crowded and noisy.

Thus, where is the vast revenue needed to payback the costs in here?

For McD's, I feel they have nothing to lose. But, for the provider, there is a significant cost to install all that equipment and the other charges. Unless you have one heck of a sugar daddy with deep, deep pockets, the piper may come early.
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