WiFi and fast food seem to go together like a greasy entree washed down with a Coke. Taco Bell is the latest to promise its patrons free WiFi in all of its U.S. restaurants -- that's 5,600 locations. And, if that weren't reason enough to linger in those lovely plastic chairs over a plate of Chalupas, Taco Bell is also throwing in a free side of TV, too.
Granted, Taco Bell is a little late to the scene with free WiFi. McDonald's, Starbucks and most Burger King locations have had free WiFi for years. As for TV, the same system that Taco Bell will be installing is already in place at McDonalds, Wendy's, Arby's, Carls Jr., Denny's, Hardees and KFC, to name a few. A company named indoorDIRECT will be implementing both the WiFi and the television.
indoorDIRECT offers "magazine-style" television shows, run on an Internet-based television network it calls "The Restaurant Entertainment Network." According to indoorDirect, more than 150 million Americans consume its magazine-like television shows along with their fries (and soon, their refried beans) at over 1,000 brands of fast-food chains. By magazine-style shows, the company means sports clips, entertainment news and "lifestyle content" of the morning show variety. No need to talk to your companions while dining at these joints anymore. In fact, no need to bring companions with you at all when you indulge.
Taco Bell says it serves more than 36.8 million people each week in all of those U.S. locations. While it wants these folks to think outside the bun, thinking inside the square -- iPads, netbooks and smartphones -- is to be encouraged.