Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Free Wi-Fi at McDonald’s (hopefully you’ll want fries with that)

McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) has recently announced plans to start providing free Wi-Fi service, through a partnership with AT&T, at over 11,000 of their 13,000 U.S. locations. AT&T customers may already be familiar with this benefit, as the company already provides free Wi-Fi to AT&T wireless and wired customers at Starbucks, McDonald's and various other locations. For the rest of us, a $2.95 fee for 2 hours of internet access is charged. Thanks to this recent agreement all Wi-Fi seekers, regardless of their service provider, will have free access at McDonald's.

This development seems to be the latest in a trend started a few years ago, when McDonald's began to refocus it image towards a chicer look, this has covered everything from eliminating trans-fats, redesigning the stores to look higher-end, and in the extreme case in over 100 stores in Germany, changing the color scheme from red to green (for environmental affect). Introducing free Wi-Fi seems to be the next logical step in this campaign. If the goal is to make McDonald’s not just a place to “smash and dash” but to stick around for a while, why not allow customers to surf the web and maybe enjoy an invigorating McCafe while their at it?

On a side note, can you imagine sticking around and surfing the web at the McDonald's restaurants of a decade or so ago, the ones with the plastic chairs, bright pastel linoleum cushions and in some cases, large sculptures of those McDonald's monster/mascot things?

With the new image and offerings of McDonald's and their constant pursuit of self improvement, it is easy to see why they enjoy such financial success. As a net lease investment, McDonald's is one of the finest available and adding a service like free Wi-Fi will only enhance its value and drive higher sales. Who knows how many extra coffees or fries may be ordered by the flocks of cheap internet seekers who may congregate their. This development should only encourage interest in McDonald's as a net lease investment.

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