It seems as though every retail shop in the country now offers free Wi-Fi for customers. What was once a differentiator is now a must-have.
Retailers offer free Wi-Fi for a lot of different reasons. Starbucks, for example, wants to be that place you think of (and return to buy coffee) that is a third place, after your home and office, where you can spend as much time as you want working or playing. And while McDonald’s also offers free Wi-Fi, the company lives on turnover, so you are welcome to use the service, but don’t plan on spending hours there.
If you have an unlimited 4G/LTE contract, you are likely to find that connection to be much faster than a retailer’s Wi-Fi. The 4G/LTE network is also more secure than a retailer’s open Wi-Fi network. But there are times when just about everyone wants or needs to use a Wi-Fi network.
Computer specialists at PCMag combed through the Ookla speedtest database of crowd-sourced Wi-Fi speeds for a number of coffee shops, fast-food outlets and other retailers to find out which ones offer the fastest Wi-Fi connectivity. Here are the results.
Among fast-food restaurants, there are three tiers, with a top tier that includes McDonald’s (24.2 and 6.1 Mbps, download and upload, respectively) and Panera (23.2 and 7.4 Mbps) at the top. Arby’s Qdoba, Wendy’s, Boston Market and Chick-fil-A offer download speeds ranging from 13.4 to 7.5 Mbps. KFC, Shake Shack and Potbelly offer download speeds below 2 Mbps, clearly more interested in getting customers to eat and leave rather than hang around.
Among seven coffee shops, Dunkin’ Donuts offered the highest average download and upload speeds:
- Dunkin’ Donuts: 25.4 Mbps, download; 16.6 Mbps, upload
- Peet’s Coffee: 25.2 Mbps, download; 6.4 Mbps, upload
- Starbucks: 23.3 Mbps, download; 6.3 Mbps, upload
After these three, download speeds drop to below 7 Mbps at Tim Hortons, Philz Coffee and Caribou Coffee, and all the way down to 3.5 Mbps at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
The full review at PCMag offers more details, plus results from additional retail stores like Apple, Microsoft, Target and Walmart.