McDonald's criticised over 'confusing' Wi-Fi strategy

Charging more for hot-spot access than burgers will not be a winning strategy, according to an Australian IDC analyst

"It is confusing and expensive," IDC senior analyst for wireless communication Warren Chaisatien says of the hot-spot operation set up by Telstra in 44 McDonald's restaurants in Australia.

Chaisatien adds: "It has a very high cost in both corporate and consumer perspective. You go into McDonald's and order a $4.50 (£2.42) burger and pay around $6 to $10 for your Wi-Fi use. It is more expensive than the food you are eating.

"In the past, Telstra has targeted business users with their hotels and airport hotspots but I think a fast-food chain is totally different. They are trying to attack both ends of the market, the regular fast-food consumers and the businessmen," Chaisatien says.

Leica Ison, Telstra general manager for messaging, says McDonald's was chosen mainly because of its global coverage and wide range of locations in the country.

"The partnership makes a lot of sense especially since we want to emphasise customer awareness on this technology and the best location to tap into people is in places where people often stop, like McDonald's".

Tibor Schwartz, Telstra group manager for wireless messaging, says they are also looking at other locations for the hot spots in the next couple of months, mainly in areas where people on the go stop to take their breaks or do some work.

But Chaisatien believes the Australian market is not ready for café and fast-food hot spots. "It is a deliberate experience. People do not intentionally carry their laptops to fast-food [outlets] and cafes like they do with their phones. In general the move is good, but I don't think there is money to be made in this market. No wireless-hotspot provider in Australia is making money". He says revenue will come only in the long term, especially if price points go lower for customers by the end of the year.

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