Fast food giant McDonald's is planning on dropping fees for accessing the Internet via Wi-Fi in its restaurants in January, 2010. The company will be offering free wireless Internet access as part of a move to make its locations feel more like a "hang out" location instead of a fast hamburger joint, according to the Wall Street Journal.
McDonald's is currently charging US$2.95 for two hours of wireless Internet access at 11,000 if its U.S. locations. The company will continue to partner with AT&T for in-restaurant Wi-Fi.
The plan is to use free Wi-Fi as a tool to encourage customers to stay in the restaurants between meals and hopefully buy McCafe coffee drinks and the new line of smoothies and frappes.
"We're becoming a destination and free wi-fi just naturally fits," commented David Grooms, McDonald's Chief Information Officer. "This is another long-term investment that we see helps McDonald's stay relevant as a brand in the marketplace."
The decision to offer free wireless Internet access could be a move on McDonald's part to compete with Starbucks and other coffee chains for between meal customers.
McDonald's plans to roll out its free Wi-Fi program in mid January across the United States.