Starbucks Adds AT&T WiFi; Now You've Got A Choice
from the would-you-like-the-tall-or-the-vente-wifi? dept
For many years, Starbucks has provided a huge footprint for fee-based WiFi from T-Mobile (originally Mobilestar). While many, many others had determined that it made more sense to offer free WiFi in coffee shops and other places to attract users, Starbucks stuck by the relatively expensive T-Mobile WiFi offering. The deal was apparently somewhat (though not fantastically) profitable for both companies, which is why they never seemed to budge from it, even as the idea of fee-based WiFi lost a lot of its luster. However, it looks like things are finally shaking up a bit. Starbucks has now announced that it’s also adding AT&T’s hotspot offering to its stores, which is a pretty big deal, since AT&T offers access to its WiFi hotspots for free to most DSL customers. Prior to this, most of AT&T’s hotspots were found in McDonalds — so adding Starbucks is a big win.
It’s interesting to note, however, that Starbucks hasn’t dumped T-Mobile, it’s just added AT&T. It’s not clear if this means that Starbucks will be installing separate WiFi equipment for both services, but given the recent deal between Apple and Starbucks to let iPhone users access iTunes via WiFi for free, you had to figure that the company was going to be changing some of its WiFi backend equipment. Also given AT&T’s iPhone connection, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that AT&T was a part of the new Starbucks offering. The other interesting bit is that for non-subscribers, the AT&T WiFi will be noticeably cheaper in one-off use than T-Mobile’s — meaning even if T-Mobile hasn’t been “dumped” it may have just lost many one-time users. If anything, this may continue to push Starbucks to move closer and closer to finally giving up the paid solution and offering WiFi for free — just as many Starbucks managers have been begging the company to do for years.