Want Wi-Fi with That?

By Carol Ellison  |  Print this article Print


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Wayport is supersizing its Wi-Fi deal with McDonald's to appeal to the appetites of integrators and service providers, as well as to restaurant customers. In doing so, it may just succeed where Cometa and others have failed.

Before Wayport had much time to glory in its April win of a bid to unwire McDonald's restaurants, one of its key competitors went belly-up.

Immediately, it seemed, pundits and analysts everywhere were asking whether the retail model for Wi-Fi hot spots—the one that suggests wireless connectivity will attract new customers to a venue—had any promise at all.

Cometa Networks Inc., a wholesaler of hot-spot infrastructure services, announced last week that it is suspending operations, just as MobileStar Network Corp., Joltage Networks Inc., hereUare Communications Inc., Aerozone and others with similar ambitions had done before it.

Cometa, along with Toshiba, had been vying with Wayport Inc. for the McDonald's Corp. deployment.

Click here to read about how Cometa hot spots are being used in the wake of the company's demise.

For Wayport, McDonald's is a new kind of gig. The company has built a successful presence in the travel and hospitality sector, providing hot-spot services to mobile professionals—the people most likely to use them—in more than 800 hotels, a dozen airports and 16 Laptop Lane business service centers.

So, why on earth is it fooling around with retail? Does it really expect to make money in an environment where laptops share tables with special sauce, Cherry Cokes and sticky fingers?

Click here for a look at one writer's experience at a McDonald's hot spot.

Obviously, the answer is 'yes.' Wayport would not have pursued the business if it didn't want it—and it wanted it very much.

The reason why became obvious yesterday when Wayport introduced Wi-Fi World, a whole new business model—designed around its partnership with McDonald's—that it plans to use to turn the Wi-Fi retail sector into fertile territory.

For the complete story, click here.

Carol Ellison is editor of eWEEK.com's Mobile & Wireless Topic Center. She has authored whitepapers on wireless computing (two on network security–,Securing Wi-Fi Wireless Networks with Today's Technologies, Wi-Fi Protected Access: Strong, Standards-based Interoperable Security for Today's Wi-Fi Networks, and Wi-Fi Public Access: Enabling the future with public wireless networks.

Ms. Ellison served in senior and executive editorial positions for Ziff Davis Media and CMP Media. As an executive editor at Ziff Davis Media, she launched the networking track of The IT Insider Series, a newsletter/conference/Web site offering targeted to chief information officers and corporate directors of information technology. As senior editor at CMP Media's VARBusiness, she launched the Web site, VARBusiness University, an online professional resource center for value-added resellers of information technology.

Ms. Ellison has chaired numerous industry panels and has been quoted as a networking and educational technology expert in The New York Times, Newsday, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, CNN Headline News, WNBC and CNN/FN, as well as local and regional Comcast and Cablevision reports. Her articles have appeared in most major hi-tech publications and numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor.

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