Feeds

O2 Wi-Fi slips into McDonalds, steals The Cloud's lunch

Snatched just in time for the Olympics

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

O2 continues to expand its free Wi-Fi offering, this time donning a hairnet to push into 1,200 McDonalds hotspots which will become O2 branded just in time for the London Olympics.

Not that there will be any additional Wi-Fi coverage; the clown-branded eateries already offer free Wi-Fi connections complete with family-friendly filtering, but over the next few months those connections will switch from The Cloud onto O2's free Wi-Fi service as companies are now competing to see who can provide the most stuff for free.

That's free at the point of delivery – someone still has to pay for it obviously. Both The Cloud and O2 Wi-Fi earn a living by charging the premises involved, on the basis that free Wi-Fi is a promotional tool, so O2's business model calls for McDonalds to be footing the bill. But O2 is no stranger to the loss leader – it's already paying for blanket Wi-Fi across two London boroughs – so one imagines that the deal with McDonalds was extremely competitive.

McDonalds Wi-Fi is interesting in that is one of the few Wi-Fi networks that filters out adult content (the mobile-phone networks do but Wi-Fi providers generally don't). McDonalds even carries the Mumsnet seal of approval, and O2 says it will continue to provide that filtering service – though it wasn't sharing the details of who will provide the underlying infrastructure.

Previous filters were DNS-based, but that has become less reliable where a single host (such as YouTube) provides such a range of content. In most cases it won't matter. Borderline sites – such as the former News of The World website and gay-themed chat services, which have both been disputed – can fall on either side but it's interesting as part of the ongoing trend towards requiring an "opt in" to adult services, as pioneered by the mobile operators.

McDonalds is something of a pioneer in Wi-Fi, the clown has made numerous attempts to create a viable service going back to its first charged-for Wi-Fi offering in 2002 (branded Cometa), and free Wi-Fi for the more-salubrious parts of California a year later. These days the clown claims to provide wireless connectivity to 750,000 customers a month.

From around the time of the London Olympics (which O2 coyly describes as "this summer's festivities", since as a non-sponsor it's forbidden to mention the games) the logo on McDonalds Wi-Fi service will change, along with the logon process, but more importantly the market for consumer Wi-Fi provision is becoming a lot more competitive. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee
But there's a flaw in Google's IP-based IoT system
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
Rural mobile coverage: Tweeting twits to join chirping tits in UK's national parks
Yup, someone IS gabbering behind you on the hiking trail
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
NBN Co execs: No FTTN product until 2015
Faster? Not yet. Cheaper? No data
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.