updated 11:35 am EST, Mon February 11, 2008
Starbucks ATT Free Wi-Fi
Starbucks today said it would begin offering free Wi-Fi access to AT&T subscribers as well as free two hours of Wi-Fi to those who make purchases at the world's largest coffee chain. The move marks a break from Starbucks' longstanding choice of T-Mobile and will see all of Starbucks' 7,000-plus existing Internet-capable coffee houses switch to AT&T for access. All customers of AT&T's DSL and U-verse Internet services will have free, unlimited access to the hotspots. AT&T's cellphone customers will also have the option in the near future, the coffee producers say. Starbucks Card holders will also have two hours of use per day on top of their existing benefits.
Paid access will still remain available to customers outside of AT&T service and should cost $4 for two hours of access or $20 per month for access both to Starbucks wireless points as well as AT&T's roughly 70,000 hotspots.
Switching providers is expected by Starbucks to accelerate the rollout of its Apple Wi-Fi deal, which lets both iTunes-equipped computers, the iPhone, and the iPod touch gain limited free access to Starbucks wireless locations for the sake of sampling and buying music through the network. Neither AT&T nor Starbucks has said whether the partnership will change, though AT&T is also Apple's exclusive carrier for the iPhone in the US.