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    McDonald's USA to Offer Free Wi-Fi

    Starting in January, the fast-food chain will no longer charge for Internet access.

    OAK BROOK, Ill. -- McDonald's Corp. will soon offer free wireless Internet access at most of its U.S. fast-food restaurants as it tries to further broaden its appeal, The Associated Press reported.

    "We're not just about hamburgers," said Dave Grooms, chief information officer for McDonald's USA. "We are about convenience, and all kinds of value."

    The world's largest fast-food chain has offered Internet access for roughly five years, but in mid-January, it will lift the $2.95 fee it has charged for two hours of Internet access at 11,000 of its 14,000 U.S. locations. There will be no time limit once the fee is lifted.

    The move is a good fit with the company's growing coffee business, which has upped the chain's competition with Starbucks Corp., which also offers free Wi-Fi access, the AP report stated. Coffee and the McCafe line of drinks at McDonald's have helped drive its sales and increase its market share in the U.S.

    McDonald's has not released sales data for McCafe, but recently said its coffee business has grown from 2 percent of the chain's overall sales to 5 percent over the past few years.

    Grooms said McDonald's -- traditionally known as a quick stop -- has become more of a destination with new products and a new look and feel at many of its restaurants, with improved lobby designs and finishes. "We don't mind at all if people step in take advantage of the Wi-Fi and linger a bit," he said.

    McDonald's is providing the wireless service through a partnership with AT&T Inc.

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