I'll have a McWiFi please!

by Derrick Story

I found myself in a McDonald's this morning with about an hour to kill. I ordered a coffee and a Big Breakfast, which isn't all that big. This left me with 50 minutes remaining and a cup of medium-strength joe.

So like any good MacGeek, I opened up my PowerBook in search of wireless networks. Lo and behold, SBC FreedomLink appeared in my AirPort list of networks. "Great," I thought, "yet another service to sign up for."

I use T-Mobile at Starbucks and don't really have any complaints other than the expense. In certain airports I've tapped into Wayport, and it's just fine. But FreedomLink? What the heck is that?

The sign-up page had the usual pricing options, plus a fields for "user name" and "password." Since I'm already an SBC DSL customer, I entered the info for my DSL account.

It worked!

I spent the next 50 minutes answering email and updating O'Reilly web sites. The coffee even began to taste good. The only thing is, I'm wondering if this is a value-added service for existing SBC customers, or if I'm going to get a $6 charge my next phone bill?

Now, only if the breakfasts were a little better at McDonalds...

Does anyone have the inside scoop on SBC's FreedomLink service?


2005-03-24 13:59:20
It probably was actually SBC
This makes me think that a good "business" model for crooks would be (already is?) to set up wireless access points that look like "SBC Freedomlink" or "Verizon WiFi" or whatever, allow anybody's username and password to work, and then exploit those captured credentials as well as anything exposed in the traffic.
2005-03-24 16:17:31
wifi in mcdonalds is pretty common here
WiFi is a pretty common feature of McDonalds in the New York City market area. There is one here in Danbury CT. When they first rolled out this service, I think there was a promotion for one hour of service for $1 with the purchase of a value meal.


2005-03-24 16:26:17
Free as in McBeer?
One reader just sent me this excerpt from an SBC press release. I haven't been able to verify it on SBC's site yet.

"SBC Yahoo! DSL subscribers can enjoy their service on-the-go via SBC FreedomLink Wi-Fi service, available at no-charge until May 31, and pay only $1.99 a month thereafter. FreedomLink service is one of the nation's largest Wi-Fi networks with service available in more than 6,700 nationwide locations including select McDonald's restaurants, Barnes & Noble bookstores, The UPS Store ® and Mail Boxes Etc. ®, coffee shops, Avis rental car locations, airports, hotels, convention centers, restaurants, state parks, rest stops and welcome centers. "

2005-03-24 17:36:23
Some McDonalds in my area have had promotional coupons for a free hour
I happened to find out when I sat down with my laptop at a table right across from one where the restaurant manager was doing some paperwork. He offered me the card right away, without my asking. I've asked the manager in a couple of other locations and been given one. So if you're not an SBC customer, it's definitely worth asking.


2005-03-29 17:32:06
SBC confirmation
I've been writing about McDonald's and Wi-Fi for about 2 1/2 years now, and SBC is purchasing access to McDonald's via Wayport, which operates the service in a partnership with McDonald's. There are a few thousand McDonald's already with Wi-Fi in the US and many hundreds to thousands worldwide. The US project is targeting at least 8,000 in the first few years, but McDonald's has 13,000 stores here...