McDonald’s will be opening up their golden arches to free wi-fi starting in January, 2010. The king of burgers made the announcement that they would scrape their pay plan and opt for free Internet access via a deal with AT&T. Now that McDonald’s has announced a free Internet it most likely will force other chains to begin offering a free service as well.

But what this really is going to show is what we the public will be expecting, not only from our hamburger joints, but also others who we visit. I recently took a trip to a local car dealership for a oil change and I expected my time to pass quickly because of the free wi-fi they offered, Same thing on a recent airplane flight I took. I just expected my airport to have free wi-fi which they did. I was even pleasantly surprised to find free wi-fi at the St. Louis airport as well, courtesy of Google.

As one recent article stated:

The shift has been long in coming. The search for a coffee shop with free WiFi used to be a rite of passage for frugal tech-savvy travelers – local joints were once a haven, asking only that patrons actually purchase something before partaking in gratis Googling. But recently the major bookseller chains have gotten in on the act, and, gradually, so has Starbucks. The coffee chain still requires would-be users to load up money on one of its gift cards and make a purchase with it to unlock a few hours of WiFi, but it’s a big shift from the subscription-only scheme it ran for years through T-Mobile and now AT&T.

What I believe is going to happen is that we are going to see an explosion of free wi-fi options coming our way in 2010. Not only fast food joints, coffee chains and others, but also from local shops that will need to compete.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.