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AT&T kicks off Starbucks Wi-Fi rollout

Wi-Fi will eventually be deployed to more than 7,000 Starbucks locations

By Brad Reed, Network World
April 25, 2008 03:53 PM ET

Network World - AT&T began rolling out Wi-Fi services at Starbucks locations in San Antonio today, with plans to eventually offer Wi-Fi services at more than 7,000 Starbucks nationwide.

Speaking at AT&T’s annual stockholders meeting in San Antonio today, company CEO Randall Stephenson said that the San Antonio Starbucks would be the first of many locations to get AT&T Wi-Fi capabilities in the coming weeks. He also announced that as of May 1, all AT&T high-speed Internet customers will get free access to Wi-Fi hot spots at Starbucks nationwide.

Starbucks first announced that AT&T would be taking responsibility for Starbucks’ in-store Wi-Fi networks  in February, more than five years after Starbucks launched its wireless LAN service with T-Mobile.

Under the agreement signed by the companies, AT&T is due to deliver wireless broadband connectivity to 7,000 Starbucks stores nationwide. The agreement also guarantees that all 12 million AT&T broadband and U-Verse Internet subscribers will be able to access Wi-Fi hot spots in Starbucks for free. Additionally, all Starbucks Card holders will be granted two free hours of Wi-Fi per day, and customers who had been subscribers of the T-Mobile HotSpot service will be able to continue to access Starbucks Wi-Fi services at no additional cost, the companies say.

Starbucks customers who don’t subscribe to AT&T or the T-Mobile HotSpot service will be able to purchase in-store Wi-Fi access on a tiered basis, Starbucks says. Customers who don’t have Starbucks Cards will be to pay $3.99 for a two-hour session, while monthly membership rates will be priced at $19.99 per month and will give users access to AT&T’s 70,000 Wi-Fi hot spots worldwide.

The AT&T agreement is just one move that Starbucks has made over the past year to shake up its Wi-Fi services. Last October, the company announced that it had chosen content-delivery network service provider Akamai to provide hundreds of Starbucks stores with content-delivery servers to help speed up their Wi-Fi iTunes Music Stores.

Read more about wireless & mobile in Network World's Wireless & Mobile section.

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