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Intel and McDonald's hook up to push Wi-Fi

You want Wi-Fi with that Big Mac?

Intel, the world's biggest computer-chip maker, and McDonald's, the world's biggest restaurant chain, are teaming up to market wireless connectivity to the Internet in some McDonald's restaurants, the companies said on Tuesday.

The effort, starting with 10 McDonald's restaurants in Manhattan, is part of Intel's $300m campaign to launch its Centrino line of products, designed for laptop computing and high-speed wireless access to the internet.

As part of the programme, for the next three months McDonald's will give customers an hour of wireless internet access in its restaurants with the purchase of a combination meal.

After that customers will have the option of paying $3 for another hour online or buying another meal.

High-speed wireless Internet access, or Wi-Fi, is spreading rapidly, with "hot spots" popping up in airports, hotels and coffee shops across the US.

The Centrino technology includes a new processor that Intel designed for laptop computers, related chipsets and a Wi-Fi transceiver, which transmits data at speeds up to roughly 200 times faster than standard dial-up modem.

McDonald's will use an open network so customers do not have to set up accounts to gain access. The fast food giant is trying to stem a slide in sales, experimenting with healthier menu options even as it tries to shore up demand for its hamburgers and french fries.

McDonald's said it will test high-speed wireless access in hundreds of restaurants in New York, Chicago and an unnamed major California market by the end of the year.

Separately, bookstore chain Borders Group said on Tuesday it was helping Intel to market the Centrino brand by putting signs in stores to let customers know that its T-Mobile hotspot network has been optimised to work with the Intel Centrino products.

T-Mobile, a provider of cellular phone service and wireless Internet access, is a unit of Deutsche Telekom.

Ann Binkley, a spokeswoman for Borders, declined to comment on the financial terms of the market effort. She said Intel approached Borders about the deal.

T-Mobile hotspots would be installed in all of Borders' 408 stores by the end of May, Binkley said.

Borders customers must be T-Mobile subscribers to use the hotspots and hook up to the internet.

In New York, Cometa Networks will be the service provider for the wireless connections, said McDonald's spokeswoman Lisa Howard. She said no decisions had been made yet on which service provider to use in the other markets.


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