By Carol Ellison  |  Posted 2004-05-26 Print this article Print

-Fi World"> The strategy appears to have something for everyone in the Wi-Fi chain, especially Wayport. It leverages the Wayport-McDonalds partnership by opening the relationship to other partners—for a fee. Heres how it works:
For McDonalds, theres the promise of picking up a bit of business from the 400,000 monthly customers who now connect to the Wayport network.
For a company thats been trying to shed its historical clownish image and extend its brand beyond the Ronald McDonald crowd to mobile professionals, thats a powerful draw. But Wayports plan does not begin and end with customers. Additionally, it will provide participating restaurants with location-based services for employees, including e-training and wireless access to business applications. There are opportunities here for broadband providers, including wireless and wireline carriers, Internet service providers, cable and DSL providers, and satellite and mobile operators. Not only do providers stand to pick up a bit of business from McDonalds, they will have the opportunity to join the Wayport network and greatly expand the number of hot spots they can offer in their own hot-spot service for customers. For its part, Wayport will receive a fixed monthly fee from McDonalds for every restaurant it unwires, as well as fixed fees from the providers. And it offers local integrators who work with the company the opportunity to deliver managed service offerings to the restaurants in the forms of providing security and deploying business apps. Wayports Wi-Fi World isnt just drawn around McDonalds. The strategy is Wayports entry ticket into a whole new market—the retail space currently dominated by T-Mobile USA Inc., which services Starbucks Corp. and cafes in Borders Inc. bookstores. If Wayport succeeds in unwiring even half of McDonalds 13,000 restaurants, it is looking at a tenfold expansion of its network. Cometa projected at its launch that it would have 15,000 hot spots online by 2005, a goal it fell considerably short of. The key difference between Wayport and Cometa is that Wayport is not starting from scratch. Its ambitions are tied to relationships it already has in place and has every reason to expect will deliver. Wayport was already partnering with AT&T Wireless, Sprint Communications Co. and SBC Communications Inc. when it won the McDonalds deployment. Next page: Will Wi-Fi will deliver what McDonalds wants?

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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