Wayport hits 10,000 mark for network deployments at McDonald's

Wireless service provider also manages Wi-Fi at Starbucks

Wayport Inc. said today it has passed the 10,000 mark for network deployments in McDonald's restaurants, including more than 9,300 locations that provide public access Wi-Fi.

Irving, Texas-based Wayport also provides network support for many private applications in McDonald's restaurants, including back-office processing, support of in-store kiosks for video rentals and more, said Dan Lowden, vice president of business development and marketing at Wayport.

Wayport also manages Wi-Fi in Starbucks locations. Wi-Fi is being rolled out by AT&T Inc. to about 7,000 Starbucks coffee shops this year.

With about 9,300 Wi-Fi hot spots, McDonald's is effectively the largest Wi-Fi network under a single brand, Lowden said. Wayport also supports 12,000 locations in 35 countries, including the U.S.-based McDonald's. Wayport provides at least one Cisco access point inside each of the enabled McDonald's.

McDonald's will provide Wi-Fi access for $2.95 for two hours, and some AT&T customers with broadband Internet subscriptions will receive the first two hours free, Lowden said.

While McDonald's and Starbucks are capitalizing on providing low-cost Wi-Fi access, all the major wireless carriers, including AT&T, Sprint Nextel Corp. and Verizon Wireless are pushing cellular broadband modem service for laptop users. The latest monthly pricing from Verizon brings the cost down to $40 a month for wide-area cellular data service to a laptop.

But Lowden said Wayport and AT&T see a continued need for indoor wireless coverage with Wi-Fi, simply because indoor use of a cellular connection could be interrupted by glass and concrete.

"We're competitive with such cellular plans in terms of speed, and generally a local area connections is faster than the WAN," Lowden said. "AT&T seems to have nailed it on the head by supporting both [Wi-Fi and cellular]. Why not offer the best speeds and lowest cost connection? No one technology will serve everybody."

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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