Taco Bell to Offer Free Wi-Fi by 2015

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Yum! Brands' ( YUM) Taco Bell will offer free Wi-Fi at all of its U.S. restaurants by 2015 in a move that echoes that of restaurant giants McDonald's ( MCD) and Starbucks ( SBUX).

Taco Bell said this week that all of its 5,600 U.S.-based locations will be equipped with free Wi-Fi service by 2015; just 40 of its restaurants offer the complimentary service now.


The fast-food chain will also outfit its stores with TV screens airing programs from Restaurant Entertainment Network, a content providing service already employed by Denny's ( DENN), Arby's, Wendy's ( WEN), Carl's Jr and Hardee's, according to a report in The Independent. Programs will feature content on music, lifestyle, entertainment and sports.

Taco Bell's announcements come as the Mexican-style restaurant operator looks to attract more customers and boost diners' in-store experiences.


McDonald's already offers free Wi-Fi to its customers in the U.S. Last year Starbucks began offering unlimited free Wi-Fi to its customers after previously requiring people to sign in with an account and password, and limiting free internet service to two hours per day.


Privately-held Burger King said last year it would begin offering some of its European customers free Wi-Fi; the announcement pertained to 2,200 restaurants in 12 countries including Germany, the U.K., Ireland and the Netherlands.


Other restaurant operators to offer on-screen entertainment to diners include DineEquity's ( DIN) Applebee's, Brinker International's ( EAT) Chili's and Chanticleer Holdings' ( CCLR) Hooters.

Yum shares were 0.5% lower at $56.34 Wednesday morning.

-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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