McDonald's is to install wireless broadband hotspots in its restaurants in a bid to attract more business customers.
By the end of March, Wi-Fi laptop and PDA owners will be able to connect to the internet at 561 McDonald's restaurants while tucking into their Big Mac and fries.
Most of the BT Openzone hotspots are to be put into drive-thru restaurants, popular with business travellers, as well as in 11 of its largest metropolitan fast food stores, including those in London's Oxford Street, Liverpool Street and The Strand.
Steve Tiley, head of management information systems at McDonald's, said: "Our strategy this year is to attract business users. We've found that drive-thru and service station restaurants are extremely popular with our business customers on the move."
"The hotspots will allow businessmen to check email, access the internet and download presentations while having something to eat and drink."
BT Openzone customers will be able to get online if they are within a 70 to 100 metres of an access point.
But Tiley said it would be 12 to 18 months before consumer devices such as mobile phones and handhelds become mainstream and increase the appeal of public Wi-Fi hotspots to the average shopper.
"Its not something we will offer in every restaurant, but it's part of a series of initiatives to make McDonald's even more appealing. A way of helping someone choose McDonald's over, say, a Little Chef," he added.
The McDonald's deal will extend the number of BT Openzone hotspots to 2,000 by the end of March, and builds on BT's plan to make Wi-Fi available to business travellers at locations such as airports, railway stations and hotels.
"We're looking to build Wi-Fi in key travel locations where business people go," said Christopher Taylor, head of business development at BT Openzone.
"People always know where to find a McDonald's and if they go to a drive-thru they will now also know where to find BT Openzone wireless access."
BT Openzone offers a range of price plans, from 20p pay as you go to a daily charge of £15.
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