McDonald's has confirmed it will eliminate the current $2.95 fee customers must pay for two hours of internet service when they visit a local restaurant. The fee will be waived starting sometime next month, with 11,000 McDonald's restaurants currently offering Wi-Fi supported by AT&T.
The restaurant has 14,000 domestic restaurants, and is the largest Wi-Fi network among restaurants in the U.S.
"We're not just about hamburgers," said Dave Grooms, McDonald's CIO, in an statement to the AP. "We are about convenience and all kinds of value. McDonald's is about value -- value in our food, value in our services. It's a natural fit."
Company officials hope free Wi-Fi will help draw customers to visit a local restaurant during less crowded times, and will purchase McCafe coffee drinks or regular meals. Over the years, the restaurant has tried to transform from a traditional fast food restaurant into a local hangout -- and free Wi-Fi is the company's latest step.
McDonald's is preparing to engage in a Wi-Fi battle with Starbucks and other major chains that offer Wi-Fi access -- it's not uncommon to see coffee drinkers sitting in Starbucks and Peet's using their laptops while sipping on coffee. Starbucks offers two hours of internet service for $3.99, and has around 11,000 locations.