McWi-Fi comes to San Francisco

McDonald's is rolling out the second trial of its Wi-Fi access plan in 75 San Francisco restaurants. The fast food giant recently put Wi-Fi hot spots in ten of its Manhattan locations and offered customers an hour of free 802.11b-powered wireless Internet access with any Extra Value Meal purchase. For those who can't stomach McFood, McDonald's also offered wireless access for $3/hour.

What does the second wave of McWi-Fi offer?

In San Francisco, McDonald's plans to charge $4.95 for two hours, although the company will offer deals that give people some access if they buy certain meals. Also, those who subscribe to Wayport's network will also be able to surf at McDonald's using their existing service plan. So will those who have roaming rights on Wayport's network, including customers of Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless and iPass.
The idea behind McDonald's wireless push isn't to make money off Internet access, but rather to attract more customers and sell more Big Macs. Considering that goal, it's encouraging to see that subscribers to other wireless networking services will be able to use McDonald's hotspots without having to choke down a greasy burger or pay any additional fees.

As much as I'd like to see hot spots rolled out in as many locations as possible, I have to wonder if fast food restaurants aren't the least likely place anyone might want to crack open a laptop. Enjoying wireless Internet access from a comfortable chair in a quiet coffee shop is one thing, but I can't see myself hunched over a laptop for even half an hour in McDonald's; the buzzer on deep-fry would drive me nuts.

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