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Free Wi-Fi at Jack in the Box is Gone!

Jack in the Box's pilot free Wi-Fi program is over. It ended as quietly as it started.

Many franchises still offer free Wi-Fi independently, though. Find the locations that Knowzy knows about below.

Sometime around January 2008, Jack in the Box started installing HD TVs in some of their stores. On the TVs, was a code to access free Wi-Fi. Over time, Knowzy documented sixteen such locations.

In mid-2009, the TVs and the Wi-Fi began disappearing. By the time McDonald's made their free Wi-Fi announcement in December, Jack had completely dismantled his Wi-Fi network.

Jack in the Box told Knowzy that the focus was the TVs all along. The Wi-Fi was just a side order.

What happened to free Jack in the Box Wi-Fi at the corporate level? Which locations are serving up Wi-Fi, independent of their antenna-ball-clown-overlord? Is there hope of free Wi-Fi returning to Jack in the Box?

Find all this and more in Knowzy's Free Wi-Fi at Jack in the Box is Gone!

 

Contents

 

 

What Happened to Jack Wi-Fi?

Screenshot of the new, free sign-in page. Button below McDonald's logo reads 'Free Connection.'
It Was Never About Wi-Fi, They Wanted TVs

Free Wi-Fi was simply part of the HD TV network. They didn't ask for Wi-Fi and they're not looking to replace it.

Jack in the Box says it never set its sights on free Wi-Fi. They were after news-and-advertisement-spewing big screen TVs. Free Wi-Fi service was simply bundled with the TVs.

When Jack's deal with the company providing the TVs fell through, it took Jack Wi-Fi with it.

The Wi-Fi isn't coming back anytime soon. "We are not pursuing offering free Wi-Fi in our company restaurants," Jack in the Box Communications Manager Randy Carmical told Knowzy.

RippleTV was the company providing the TVs for Jack in the Box. TargetCast acquired Ripple in September 2009. It's unclear what role, if any, the acquisition played in souring the deal with Jack in the Box.

What is clear: Wi-Fi was a cornerstone of RippleTV's service. TargetCast doesn't have a single mention of "Wi-Fi" on its web site.

 

 

Opportunities for Reviving Jack Wi-Fi

Jack in the Box is missing an opportunity to revive free Wi-Fi, long-time reader RAD Moose points out. They are testing out humanless ordering kiosks- ATM-like machines that allow you to order and pay for your food without bothering a busy Jack in the Box employee. These kiosks could house a Wi-Fi access point. But alas, this is not happening.

Jack has another opportunity to offer Wi-Fi by hiring the same company RippleTV hired to provide the Wi-Fi: A small company called Sputnik. Their brandable, easy-to-install Wi-Fi routers cost less than $100 and Sputnik will even centrally manage the Wi-Fi network for around $15 per month per location. C'mon Jack, you can spring $15 per month!

Let's hope Jack in the Box will one day realize the value of free Wi-Fi at the corporate level, as McDonald's finally did in 2009. Until they do, a small group of lucky customers can rely on forward-thinking Jack in the Box franchise owners who have offered wireless Internet for years.

 

 

Jack in the Box Locations with Wireless Internet

While Jack in the Box is no longer rolling out free Wi-Fi company-wide, many franchises offer it independently, right under Jack's pointy nose.

We're keeping track of Jack in the Box locations with free Wi-Fi in the following chart. We need your help in finding more.

Jack in the Box has over 2,000 stores and franchisees own nearly 50% of them, according to Jack Communications Manager Randy Carmical. By the end of 2013, he expects that number to climb to 70 – 80%, thanks to a "refranchising program."

That adds up to more than a thousand of potential free Wi-Fi opportunities!

If you encounter a Jack in the Box with Wi-Fi, please let us know and we'll add it to the list.

If you need a second (or third or fourth) opinion, check out the three main Wi-Fi hotspot directories on the web. They are Wi-Fi FreeSpot, OpenWiFiSpots and JiWire.

 

Jack in the Box Wi-Fi Locations (Unofficial)
CityAddressZipPhoneO
Agoura, CA5033 N Kanan Rd91301818-889-1653?
Azusa, CA877 E Alosta91702626-969-1153?
Brea, CA315 S Brea Blvd92821714-529-2361?
Camarillo, CA1650 Daily Dr93010805-484-9443Y
El Cajon, CA 1700 E Main St 92021619-441-2564?
El Cajon, CA 495 N 2nd St 92021619-440-8286 ?
Irvine, CA4289 Campus Dr92612949-823-8983?
Oxnard, CA2580 N Vineyard Ave93030805-485-0773?
Legend
O
Electrical outlets available?

 

 

Who Powered the Corporate Jack in the Box Wi-Fi?

    RippleTV

    Ripple's claim to fame was a network of entertaining big screen TVs in retail establishments. A mix of news, entertainment and advertising, these Ripple TVs grab customers' attention while they wait in line or ignore their dining partners.

    This company has since been acquired by TargetCast, which runs a similar network of TVs but apparently doesn't speak Wi-Fi.

    Free Wi-Fi was part of the Ripple mix early on. TargetCast, on the other hand, makes no mention of Wi-Fi in their marketing literature.

    Ripple got in the door of the retail locations by charging little up front and sharing the advertising revenue. Some big name clients signed on, including Jiffy Lube, Borders, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and Tully's Coffee.

    In mid-2007, Ripple struck the deal with Jack in the Box. No one seemed to notice the free Wi-Fi bit at the time.

     

    Sputnik

    RippleTV managed their Wi-Fi network with a solution from San Francisco-based Sputnik. They were the backbone of Jack's free Wi-Fi network.

    Jack Wi-Fi users saw Sputnik's "captive portal" sign in page when first connecting. Until the Wi-Fi access code is entered, attempts to view web pages redirect users to the captive portal.

    Sputnik's "Agent" embeds itself in the firmware of routers that run Linux (DD-WRT, specifically), including Linksys and Buffalo. Sputnik's co-founders made a name for themselves in the Linux services industry.

    With more than 2,100 Jack in the Box locations, Sputnik landed a big account. Too bad for them that it didn't last.

 

 

Media Coverage of Jack Wi-Fi

Knowzy readers learned about free Wi-Fi at Jack in the Box before Valentine's Day 2008. We were also the first to report its demise.

Below are other news outlets and blogs that have reported on the Jack wireless story.

    Ripple TV Gets Funding, Jack-in-the-Box Venues

    MediaDailyNews, July 9, 2007

    Covers Ripple's second round of funding and the partnership with Jack in the Box. A single sentence reads: "The company is also planning to provide free Wi-Fi access to all venues that install its video displays."

    RippleTV wants to ripple TV monitors across U.S., raises $10M

    VentureBeat, July 9, 2007

    A detailed analysis of Ripple's business model and the second round of funding. Again, the free Wi-Fi is at Jack in the Box is a side-order to the main story. However, an important technical detail is dropped here: Customers share the Internet connection used by the TV's always-on video and data stream.

    Free Wireless Internet at Jack in the Box

    Knowzy, February 13, 2008

    You are here. In mid-January, Knowzy's founder discovered free Wi-Fi at his local Jack in the Box. This led him on a two county tour of Jack in the Box restaurants, talking to store managers, sniffing out wireless signals and drinking gallons of their wonderful fresh-brewed iced tea. What Knowzy found that weekend laid the groundwork for this article.

    Jack in the Box secretly rolls out free Wi-Fi in some O.C. units

    Orange County Register, February 21, 2008

    Nancy Luna, the OC Register's Fast Food Maven, did a profile on Knowzy's story shortly after it broke. She was the first to get official word from Jack in the Box: It's in testing but they're not ready to talk about it. She also contacted Carl's Jr. and Del Taco, who say they are considering free wireless Internet too.

    Knowzy documents free Wi-Fi at some Calif., Ariz., Jacks in the Box (Jack in the Boxes?)

    Wi-Fi Networking News, February 21, 2008

    Glenn Fleishman's blog covering the world of Wi-Fi news posted a short write-up on this article. He also brings up a good question: What is the plural of Jack in the Box? For this article Knowzy has been using "Jack in the Box's." Calling all grammar nitpickers!

    Select Jack In The Boxes Offering Free Wi-Fi

    The Consumerist, March 14, 2008

    Fun and fiercely pro-consumer blog "The Consumerist" picked up our story, summarizing our article nicely. They also gave another vote to "Jack in the Boxes" as the plural of Jack in the Box.

    McDonald's, Starbucks, and Jack in the Box Offering Free WiFi?

    geeksugar, March 17, 2008

    geeksugar, where "Geek is Chic," told its readers about free Jack in the Box Wi-Fi on St. Patrick's Day. These tech-savvy ladies ate up the news.

    Guide to Free Wi-Fi at Jack In The Box

    Fast Food Critic, May 7, 2008

    There's a new fast food web site in town and they're talking about Jack Wi-Fi. The Fast Food Critic reviews food, provides nutrition information and much more. FFC publishes actual photos of the reviewed food rather than the idealized, Photoshopped images put out by the restaurant's marketing department. Nice.

If you see any coverage of Jack Wi-Fi not listed here, please let us know.

 

 

Talk About It

Do you know of any additional Jack in the Box's with free wireless? Do you have a Jack Wi-Fi experience to share? Are you having trouble using the Internet at a Jack in the Box with Wi-Fi?

Talk about Jack Wi-Fi on our Feedback page.

Wi-Fi and french fries. Try not to get your laptop too greasy!

 

Originally Published:  Tuesday, February 12, 2008, 4:00 PM PT

Last Updated:  Sunday, October 30, 2011, 1:44 PM PT

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