The fourth-largest convenience chain in North America is expanding the Internet service it offers in some of its stores in Western Canada by turning kiosks into Wi-Fi access hubs.

Couche-Tard said last month it would be rolling out the Wi-Fi service to 34 Mac’s Convenience Stores in Vancouver

through a partnership with Info Touch Technologies Corp., a Burnaby, B.C.-based software provider that currently provides Internet access to these stores, and FatPort Corp., a Vancouver-based wireless ISP.

Monthly Wi-Fi service will cost $34.95 and daily use will cost $9.95. ZapLink kiosks in the stores will be the gateways for the Wi-Fi network, while Info Touch’s Surfnet Premiere software will manage the kiosks, where users will also be able to access support services.

“”It’s kind of a quasi-Internet cafe, I guess,”” said Ron Thompson, Mac’s Convenience Stores’ marketing manager. “”One of the hindrances we’ve had was just the capital investment to keep it moving.””

Info Touch CEO Hamed Shahbazi said the up front costs for the deployment of the kiosks and Wi-Fi network could run anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000, depending on the applications being offered. He added Wi-Fi and Web access is a natural fit for convenience stores, which often enjoy high-traffic locations.

“”This is positive loitering — they’ve got couches, and they’ve made it a very nice environment.””

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