AT&T Pushes Wi-Fi Into Starbucks
Two free hours of the high-speed wireless service will be offered to customers in 7,000 Starbucks locations.
Continuing its aggressive drive to expand its Wi-Fi locations, AT&T said Monday that it will offer high-speed wireless service in 7,000 Starbucks locations.
The arrangement also will expand opportunities for users of Apple's iPhone to access Wi-Fi to download music and videos. AT&T is the exclusive provider of the iPhone in the United States and Wi-Fi is significantly faster than AT&T's EDGE network.
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The AT&T-Starbucks agreement realigns some important pieces of public online access. Starbucks customers can obtain two hours of free Wi-Fi access in the new arrangement with AT&T, although they may be encouraged to purchase a cup of coffee when visiting.
"This is what our customers have been waiting for -- free Starbucks-quality Wi-Fi," said Chris Bruzzo, Starbucks chief technology officer, in a statement. "Through our new partnership with AT&T, we also welcome their millions of current customers who can now come in and enjoy free Wi-Fi as part of their daily Starbucks experience."
Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment, noted that his firm's new relationship with AT&T expands on its existing deployment of iTunes Music Stores at Starbucks locations.
In addition, other plans will be offered for staggered prices by AT&T depending on various membership qualifications; some plans enable customers to access AT&T's 70,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the world.
"Pricing is interesting," said telecommunications expert Jeff Kagan in an e-mail. "It drives the bundle. The interesting news is customers who use AT&T DSL internet services get access at Starbucks for no additional charge. This is a brilliant move on AT&T's part to drive the bundle. This deal with Starbucks should help AT&T sell new customers and hang onto existing customers with the bundle, or without."
The new services will begin their rollout in selected Starbucks locations this spring, with completion scheduled to be finished by the end of the year. The deployment will be provided by Wayport, which has provided Wi-Fi deployment services for AT&T, including several thousand AT&T hotspots at McDonald's restaurants.