Starbucks and AT&T announce Wi-Fi partnership

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.