Maccas the hot spot for 3G users

Chains report surge in free wireless uptake

Mobile 3G users have dodged expensive bills by logging into McDonalds' free wireless Internet, which this month surpassed one million sessions since its launch in November last year.

Speaking at the Cebit Enterprise conference this week, McDonalds Australia IT project manager Andrew Rosenkowitz said the number of users logging into the locally-developed free hotspots have dwarfed those used in the larger deployments in the United Kingdom.

He said the hotspot project was almost grounded because of the proliferation of 3G networks.

“[Initially] the project was had a bleak outlook because of the availability of 3G at the time,” Rosenkowitz said.

“Now people come in to preserve the data limits on their 3G plans.”

The fast-food giant expects to top four million sessions by year's end, and will open the hotspots in a further 22 stores over the next two months. So far 709 restaurants, or 92 percent of chain's outlets, are wi-fi enabled.

McDonalds uses a virtualised 'cloud' service to quickly outfit restaurants with wi-fi hotspots, using local security provider EarthWave.

Customer are allocated a 50Mb download limit, and have no time restrictions, with most users spending about 30 minutes on the free Internet.

Rosenkowitz said the chain is planning an advertising model to fund the service.

He said the project went live through 20 restaurant pilots “without expectations or targets” in less than nine weeks.

The service uses content filtering and centralised hosted security rated as highly protected by the Defence Signals Directorate.

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