Free wi-fi is a blessing wherever you can get it, especially for smart phone users. But public wi-fi hotspots can be frustrating. The networks are open to everybody, and one person’s download can affect another person’s regular browsing. Well, Hungry Jacks customers won’t have to worry about that any longer.

The Burger King franchisee, which is wholly owned by Jack Cowin’s Competitive Foods Australia, has started offering free wi-fi in over 300 locations throughout Australia. This move is intended to make Hungry Jacks more competitive with fast food restaurants like McDonald’s that already offer free wi-fi hotspots to their customers. What the other places don’t offer, though, is speed.

Of course, there’s a catch. In order to offer faster browsing capabilities, Hungry Jacks has set a limit to the number of people who can have full wireless access at one time.  Right now, the number of simultaneous users, who can have 30 minutes of uninterrupted wireless access and 100 megabytes of downloads, stands at 20. In exchange for filling out an email registration and answering a few survey questions, patrons can extend their sessions to one hour.

Before deciding to take its wi-fi offering national, Competitive Foods Australia did extensive research on what its competitors had to offer and devised a plan to address customers’ most common complaint:  slow connection. After that, they did an 18-month trial run in four of their Victoria locations; it was a smashing success.

In addition to limiting the number of people who can connect at one time, Hungry Jacks also upgraded its restaurants’ Internet connections to ADSL2+ connectivity. Hungry Jacks’ national rollout is managed under a $6-million, three-year telecommunications contract with Primus Telecom. Aruba 802.11n hotspots were installed in nearly 300 Competitive Foods Australia-owned restaurants. If franchise managers give the go-ahead, the company will install Aruba 802.11n hotspots in most of its 65 franchise locations by the end of February.

Many have remarked on the speed of Hungry Jacks’ Internet connection on public forums. Angus Wolfcastle, a “Whirlpool Enthusiast,” explained the registration process this way, “The first time you try to connect, you will end up at ‘walled garden,’ whereby ticking that you have read the ToS and clicking continue, you get a half-hour session. The registration option appears as a button on the page confirming you are connected to the Internet. It allows you to register your device. Registering grants you one-hour sessions and your device stays registered for 30 days. In return, HJ’s will ask for your email address and statistical information (age range, why you like HJ’s, etc).” Registration notwithstanding, each customer is permitted one session per day.

Now that Hungry Jacks has started upgrading its wi-fi hotspots and providing connectivity for patrons throughout Australia, it is ready and able to take on major competitors like McDonald’s. And at least 20 customers at any given time can enjoy quick and easy access to the Internet while enjoying their burgers and fries.