Want Wi-Fi with That?By Carol Ellison | Posted 2004-05-26 Email 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 spotsthe one that suggests wireless connectivity will attract new customers to a venuehad 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.
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 professionalsthe people most likely to use themin 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?
Obviously, the answer is 'yes.' Wayport would not have pursued the business if it didn't want itand it wanted it very much.
The reason why became obvious yesterday when Wayport introduced Wi-Fi World, a whole new business modeldesigned around its partnership with McDonald'sthat it plans to use to turn the Wi-Fi retail sector into fertile territory.
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