Monday, January 18, 2010

Would You Like Wi-Fi with That?

Would You Like Wi-Fi with That

If you're craving a Big Mac and fries on your lunch break, it may be possible for you to get some work done while you're eating under the golden arches. Earlier this month, over 11,000 McDonald's restaurants started offering free Wi-Fi service. Many of the restaurants were already offering paid Wi-Fi service because as one Manhattan McDonald's franchise owner Paul Hendel put it, "At first, McDonald's wasn't that relevant to laptop users."

In Europe, several McDonald's restaurants have been offering free Wi-Fi for years in an effort to create a cafe-like atmosphere. Hendel was flown to the continent to visit other restaurants and ended up remodeling his own to recreate the look. He's added softer lighting and more earth tones, as well replacing the old fiberglass tables with items such as zebra-print furniture. He also added a number of outlets for charging laptops and phones.

McDonald's doesn't currently place limits on how long a customer can use the service, unlike other establishments that have been offering Wi-Fi for sometime. Starbucks, for example, allows registered users only two hours of time online each day.

Hendel said he's not worried about customers taking advantage of the new opportunity. “I’ve seen an increase in business and customer counts are up. Just about everyone has been respectful of time and making McDonald’s purchases," he told the New York Daily News.

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