January 07, 2004, 11:07 AM — British Telecommunications PLC (BT) is expanding its network of public Wi-Fi sites across the U.K. with access points in 500 McDonald's Corp. restaurants, it said Wednesday.
By the time the rollout is completed at the end of March, BT will have 2,200 Openzone access sites across the country.
The McDonald's sites will mainly be at the company's drive-thru restaurants, in addition to its flagship locations in London. Drive-thru restaurant customers tend to park nearby to eat their food, and will be able to access the Openzone service on their laptop or PDA (personal digital assistant) if they are within 100 meters of the site, BT spokesman John Carter said Wednesday.
"We expect it will initially be business people -- the road warriors -- who use it. We know they meet up at McDonald's when they're on the road," McDonald's head of IT, Steve Tiley, said Wednesday. The company chose to implement the system in its drive-through restaurants "because that's where we know the business people are meeting. That may change but it's what we're targeting now," he said.
Over the next 12 to 18 months, Tiley expects other customers to start using the service, perhaps using handheld devices, he said.
The Openzone service costs from