News: Starbucks to Offer Completely Free Wi-Fi

by on June 14, 2010

Exactly a week after the iPhone 4 was introduced, and a little less than two weeks since AT&T changed their data plans, Starbucks has announced that Wi-Fi will be free in its various locations.

Free Wi-Fi for Everyone

Previously, the AT&T-powered Wi-Fi was free for iPhone users and customers of other AT&T services, such as DSL or U-Verse. If you did not fall into that category, Wi-Fi was free for 2 hours a day Starbucks Rewards members or those who paid a flat rate to use the service. The change begins on July 1, and can be credited to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz:

With a focus on lessons learned, Schultz’s talk included how the company sought to embrace social and digital media and continues to look for new ways to bridge the third place coffeehouse experience with the digital world. As part of this commitment, Schultz recognized customers’ desire for a better in store Wi-Fi experience and announced that on July 1, Starbucks will turn on one-click, free Wi-Fi through AT&T in all U.S. company operated stores.

There will also be some new content changes in the coming months:

Building on the Wi-Fi update, Schultz also revealed plans for a new online customer experience called the Starbucks Digital Network, in partnership with Yahoo!, which will debut later this fall. This online experience – available only in U.S. company operated Starbucks stores – will be unique in its content offerings, allowing customers free unrestricted access to various paid sites and services such as, exclusive content and previews, free downloads, local community news and activities, on their laptops, tablets or smart phones.

Some of the reasons may be attributed to free Wi-FI at many other dining/snack locations, such as Panera Bread, McDonald’s, Caribou Coffee, and Buffalo Wild Wings. Also, if AT&T is still going to be the provider of Starbucks Wi-Fi, this may also be a way to ease some of the data traffic on the company’s 3G network with the new iPhone.

This post has been filed in News