McDonalds customers: we’re here only for the free Wi-Fi

An article in the the Guardian pointed out a very interesting phenomenon at McDonald’s outlets in the UK: people in business attire working on laptops who order only drinks. The reason: they’re at McDonald’s for the free Wi-Fi. I’ve already written about how expensive Wi-Fi access can be in the UK and in Europe. So if you don’t feel like paying the outrageous rates or hunting around for free Wi-Fi access, McDonald’s, which is nearly ubiquitous, may be your answer to nearly ubiquitous free Wi-Fi.


  1. Brett Glass says:

    This is a great example of the private sector stepping up to fill a need for connectivity in a sustainable way. Why does government need to compete with this? The answer: it doesn’t.

  2. Esme Vos says:

    So what point are you trying to prove? That old idea that all government is evil? The private sector has done TREMENDOUS damage to the United States economy. Not all the things governments do are harmful and not all the thing private companies do are helpful. What I’d like to see the government do is to help pay for the creation of fiber infrastructure and to have that infrastructure owned not by one monopoly company but either by a consortium (of which the local government is a partner) or by the local government itself.

    Then, I’d like to see the government lease out that fiber infrastructure at very low rates to ISPs like you, as backhaul, so you can compete with large firms like AT&T and Comcast. This type of government intervention helps you compete with the big guys.

    That is the whole idea behind structural separation (which is slowly being done in Europe).

  3. Esme, it’s been rare for us to agree, but you are absolutely 100% correct about municipal fiber. Fiber can and should be an infrastructure like the streets that allows diverse service offerings from a variety of providers. Some of those services are obvious to us now, such as high-speed, lower-cost-per-bit bandwidth, IP TV and IP telephony, and others are things that aren’t yet obvious.

    Just like Flickr, YouTube and Facebook were beyond most people’s imaginations in 1995, the possibilities that a ubiquitous fiber infrastructure will provide are well beyond our imaginations today.

    Michael Weinberg
    Personal Telco Project, Inc.

  4. Arnon Kohavi says:

    I still wish that connecting with an iPhone would be easier than it currently is. Going through the screens, getting redirected and accepting the user agreement simply takes too much time. I don’t know how McDonald’s does it in the UK, but I wish I could “pre-qualify” and not be bothered with all these screens again and again.