Industry News | May 7, 2002

McDonald's Japan Goes Cyber

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Tokyo, Japan—May 7, 2002—A report from Reuters today said that McDonald's Japan will soon offer high-speed internet service to patrons thanks to a deal with Softbank Corp. The program is expected to begin sometime this month.

According to Reuters, Softbank said on Tuesday it had agreed with McDonald's Company (Japan) Ltd (2702.Q) to offer the broadband service to McDonald's customers throughout Japan for a minimum monthly fee of 1,580 yen ($12.43). Using the new "hotspot" access points, customers at the chain's approximately 4,000 restaurants in Japan will have access to Internet, access that would transform the burger joint into cyber cafes of sorts.

Softbank President Son told reporters that a plan is also in the works to deliver telephone service over the web's wireless networks.

"We could offer these services with relatively small investments. We are aiming to get multiple incomes from a single network," he told a news conference.

At that same press conference, McDonald's Chief Operating Officer Yasuyuki Yagi said in the future, patrons may be able to pay for their mails via the internet and charge cards.

Industry reports have shown that McDonald's Japan, which is 55 percent owned by U.S. fast food giant McDonald's Corp has been struggling to rejuvenate its sales following last September's outbreak of the brain-wasting mad cow disease. Intense price competition, a deflationary environment and consumer fears over mad cow slowed its revenue growth in 2001, although sales managed to climb 1.1 percent on the year.

A report in the evening edition of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun business newspaper said Softbank would begin testing the wireless service at McDonald's restaurants in Tokyo as early as this month, before gradually expanding it to other areas.