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BT Equips McDonald's With Wi-Fi
By: MarkJ - 07 January, 2004 (9:25 AM)

BT has teamed up with fast-food giant McDonald's to introduce in-restaurant Internet access via a new broadband wireless LAN (Wi-Fi) hotspot deal. UPDATED to include the full press release.

Over the past 18 months, the country's dominant telecoms carrier has been aggressively rolling out so-called public "WiFi hotspots" where laptop-toting computer users pay to access the Internet from the likes of restaurants, pubs and train stations.

BT already has more than 1,700 WiFi-enabled locations around the country after striking agreements with a variety of conference centres, hotel and restaurant chains including Hilton Hotels and Costa Coffee. Come this summer it hopes to have more than doubled that number to 4,000.


BT today announced a huge boost to its campaign to bring public Wi-Fi to every community in the UK by installing BT Openzone access points in more than 500 McDonald's restaurants in the next few months.

The two companies have teamed up to offer millions of diners who visit McDonald's restaurants the ability to log on to the internet using wireless broadband, via their Wi-Fi-enabled laptop or PDA, as they grab a bite to eat.

BT believes that the landmark deal will mean that thousands more people will be able to easily take advantage of Wireless Broadband Week, which starts on January 26, when anyone with a suitable laptop or PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) can try out wireless broadband without time limit - free of charge.*

The BT Openzone access points will be installed in McDonald's flagship and drive-thru restaurants by the end of March, taking the total number of BT Openzone live sites to more than 2,000.

The majority of the McDonald's sites will be in drive-thru restaurants, which are popular with business travellers. BT already has an extensive network of BT Openzone hotspots at premium locations targeted at the business traveller, such as airports, railway stations and hotels.

The new McDonald's sites will also provide an opportunity for a wider base of customers than just the business community to experience the benefits of wireless broadband. McDonald's is keen to offer its customers the additional service of quick, convenient access to the internet, in a welcoming environment.

Steve Andrews, BT's managing director for Products and Enterprises, said: "This deal with McDonald's again confirms BT's position as the UK's leading provider of public Wi-Fi. And the scale of BT's network means that wireless broadband is growing from a premium offering for the few into something that will become part of everyone's lives, whether that's for work, or for simply surfing the web or emailing friends as a pay-as-you-go customer.

"We already have a vast network of BT Openzone access points at key locations for road warriors and these at McDonald's will help to boost that network. These sites will also help to provide easily accessible locations where the large number of people who haven't yet tried Wi-Fi can log on for free and try before they buy during Wireless Broadband Week this month.

BT Openzone access points will be installed in refurbished flagship London restaurants in The Strand, Oxford Street and Liverpool Street station and rolled out in most drive-thrus across the country. McDonald's wants to offer this exciting new service to customers who want to eat and stay connected while working on the move.

It is part of their aim to appeal to their diverse range of customers and provide a relevant and welcoming environment.

Peter Richards, chief development officer, McDonald's, said: "Today's customer is more time-pressed than ever and we think it's important to meet the needs of busy professional and family lifestyles by offering services that are both easy to use and relevant. We want the Golden Arches to be the first choice for a great meal and a place to go 'wireless'.

"McDonald's is leading the way in bringing this vital technology to millions of customers who need a convenient place to log on and work remotely or catch up with their daily schedules and correspondence while out of their home or office during the day.

McDonald's is committed to the roll out of wireless broadband in the UK, with the aim of appealing to a diverse range of customers and providing a relevant and welcoming environment. The company already has Wi-Fi agreements covering around 400 restaurants in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia in the United States.

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