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Starbucks and AT&T announce Wi-Fi partnership

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Monday, February 11, 2008
News Categories: Digital Media

Starbucks and AT&T have announced plans to offer AT&T Wi-Fi service at more than 7,000 company-operated Starbucks locations in the U.S. The partnership will result in a mix of free and paid Wi-Fi services at Starbucks stores, including two free hours of Wi-Fi access per day for Starbucks Card holders. Starbucks Cards are the company’s refillable gift cards, which are available in various denominations, and cost nothing except for the amount of currency added to the card. AT&T broadband and U-verse internet customers will have unlimited free Wi-Fi access, and AT&T’s remote access services business customers will be able to access the service as well. According to the announcement, AT&T will “soon extend the benefits of Wi-Fi at Starbucks to its wireless customers.”

“People want to stay connected to their world 24/7, and Wi-Fi hot spots, broadband and wireless make that mobility possible,” said Rick Welday, AT&T chief marketing officer, Consumer. “Laptops and smartphones give us the online mobility we crave, and now millions of AT&T and Starbucks customers will get Internet access free from the comfort of their neighborhood Starbucks.”

“Our new relationship with AT&T gives us the opportunity to expand and enhance the range of digital entertainment experiences for our customers as well as our partners, including the continued rollout of the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store at Starbucks,” said Ken Lombard, president, Starbucks Entertainment.

In addition to the free access for qualifying AT&T customers and Starbucks Card holders, tiered access to the AT&T Wi-Fi network will also be offered. Two hours of Wi-Fi access will cost $3.99, while a monthly membership will be available for $19.99, and will include access to any of AT&T’s 70,000 hot spots in 89 countries around the world. AT&T Wi-Fi access at Starbucks will be rolled out on a market-by-market basis, with implementation beginning this spring and finishing by the end of 2008.

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Comments

1

I understand that they charge because they can..  However just because they can does not mean they should.  For instance I live in a area where a Panera Bread moved in first.  Panera Bread is a big chain that offers free wifi.  Shortly after Starbucks moved in practically next door to them.  I visited that Starbucks a few months after they opened and there was maybe two customers there and one laptop.  Panera Bread on the other hand always has plenty of customers and there’s always several people with notebooks there.  I think Starbucks charging for wifi is the deal breaker..  Oh and Panera’s coffee taste so much better too!

Posted by phoenixfury on February 11, 2008 at 11:58 AM (PDT)

2

Didn’t ATT just announce free wifi to all DSL subscribers as well?

I assume this is included?

Posted by Brent on February 11, 2008 at 12:01 PM (PDT)

3

Brent, that was announced several months ago, and yes, I am assuming it is included.

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on February 11, 2008 at 12:05 PM (PDT)

4

What is the deal going to do with the T-mobile hotspots in starbucks? Are they going to end their relationship I wonder, or cater to both….

Posted by studogvetmed in Loveland, CO on February 11, 2008 at 12:17 PM (PDT)

5

RE: Panera and free WiFi. 

It isn’t always all that fast, and if I want to go to Panera to EAT I usually encounter people who are camping out there, nursing a coffee, bottled water, or something… or having full-blown business meetings there…

For awhile the Panera in my neighborhood turned OFF WiFi during 11a-1p hours, but they got rid of that restriction after a few months.

If I want to surf, I’ll go to Panera.  If I want to eat, I’ll go elsewhere.

Posted by Centerfield on February 11, 2008 at 2:08 PM (PDT)

6

@Studogvetmed, Starbucks is switching its wifi from T-Mobile to AT&T.

Posted by Rob on February 11, 2008 at 3:49 PM (PDT)

7

by phoenixfury “I understand that they charge because they can..  However just because they can does not mean they should.  For instance I live in a area where a Panera Bread moved in first.  Panera Bread is a big chain that offers free wifi.  Shortly after Starbucks moved in practically next door to them.  I visited that Starbucks a few months after they opened and there was maybe two customers there and one laptop.  Panera Bread on the other hand always has plenty of customers and there’s always several people with notebooks there.  I think Starbucks charging for wifi is the deal breaker..  Oh and Panera’s coffee taste so much better too!”

Amen to that!  I go to local coffee houses that offer free Wifi and they are filled with customers with laptops, $5.00 Lattes, and $4 pastries on the tables with them.  Starbucks Franchise is the only one I know of at this point that charges for WiFi access.  Starbucks locations by me are going downhill anyway, a little dirty, poor customer service and overpriced coffee.  I’ve lost incentive to go there.

Posted by DougFNJ on February 11, 2008 at 7:00 PM (PDT)

8

McDonald’s charges for wifi too. It doesn’t matter whether Starbucks (or McDonald’s) charges for wifi, unless you happen to be there.

Many consumers developed their preference for independent coffeehouses long before free wifi became a staple, largely because of what they perceived as predatory marketing on the part of Starbucks.

Personally, I have been a regular Starbucks customer for over 25 years. I find that their quality control, while not what it once was, is still much better than the average found in independent establishments, and they continue to deploy the very latest in brewing technology. Dark roasts are not everyone’s taste, but Starbucks is consistently better than average among roasters, approaching the mean mostly through sheer market dominance.

When I need to get in a long laptop session, though, I generally head for the muffins and ersatz coffee of the Atlanta Bread Company.

Posted by xfrosch on February 14, 2008 at 12:23 PM (PDT)

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