Do you want McWeb access with that?

Do you want McWeb access with that?

New Zealand-based public Internet access solution provider ETT Access has secured a contract with McDonald's Australia to provide burger patrons with in-store Internet access.

Under the terms of the agreement, ETT Access will provide high-speed DSL connectivity and associated hardware. So far only one site has trialled the McWeb cafe but ETT Access hopes to take the concept to McDonald's franchises across the country.

Over the last two years ETT Access has developed and refined a prepaid, secure and fully managed system for public access to PC terminals.

The first McDonald's store to trial the facility was in Dunedin, New Zealand, where it has been operating for the last 12 months. ETT Access CEO Rob Bridger describes the trial as "a stunning success". This prompted the Swanston Street, Melbourne franchise to run a 12-month trial of the facility, recently launching a new Internet cafe in its store.

ETT Access provided 11 Pentium 4-based PC terminals with a high-speed DSL broadband Internet service as part of the trial.

McDonald's customers simply purchase a prepaid access card at the front counter or McCafe. Each card has a unique access number, which is then entered on the PC login screen. The terminal validates the access number over the Internet with ETT's authentication server, which then "unlocks" the terminal for the user, providing a fully functional and familiar Windows operating environment for Internet, e-mail and other applications.

Bridger said what makes the company's product unique is its prepaid card functionality and the automated erasure of the PC's Internet use history.

"Public Internet access is going to become as common as public phones, but the only terminals available so far have been coin-operated, bulletproof PCs running on Linux - not user-friendly solutions. One of the features of our public access systems is when the user logs off, the computer cleans itself. So when the next user goes to a PC, the machine has no history. This is critical when users are conducting Internet banking or when privacy is an issue."

ETT Access's business model is simple: sites earn a 25 per cent margin on all card sales and sales agents earn 10 per cent on all card sales for sites they commission. ETT Access uses the remaining 65 per cent to pay for all hardware, ISP charges, installation and maintenance.

If a site is interested in wireless connectivity for customers to use, ETT Access can provide that, although the site would have to purchase some of the necessary hardware.

According to the company, research conducted at existing sites indicates that an average of $2,000 net revenue is earned per terminal per year.

Bridger said that the core markets for public access facilities are hospitality and leisure venues. "We already have agreements with a number of hotels like Novotel, Mercure, Hilton, Marriott, as well as coffee shop chains, RSLs and pub chains. We also see potential markets in remote mining towns, hospitals and retirement homes."

The McDonald's partnership presents "phenomenal opportunities" for ETT Access. Bridger said he has inspected between 20 to 30 McDonald's stores in the last few weeks that are interested in adopting the facility, not only to create an additional revenue stream for the store, but in an effort to attract more customers and increase food sales. According to Bridger, the next McDonald's store likely to roll out the facility is the Broadway, Sydney franchise.

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