Starbucks: Free Wi-Fi at 6,700 US sites

June 14, 2010 By ASHLEY M. HEHER , AP Retail Writer
In this Nov. 2, 2009 file photo, customers enter a Starbucks coffee shop in Arlington, Mass. Starbucks Corp. will begin offering unlimited free wireless Internet access at all company-operated U.S. locations starting July 1, 2010, part of an ongoing effort to bring more customers in the door.(AP Photo/Elise Amendola, file)

(AP) -- Starbucks Corp. will begin offering unlimited free wireless Internet access at all company-operated U.S. locations starting July 1, part of an ongoing effort to bring more customers in the door.

The Wi-Fi access, which will eventually include a new network of news and entertainment content exclusively for customers, comes as works to take business back from rivals like McDonald's Corp. and independent cafes that have long offered free Internet.

The cafe chain, which recorded its first quarterly increase in customers in 13 quarters earlier this year, had previously offered two free hours of Web access each day to registered customers.

On average, laptop users spend about an hour using the wireless Internet in Starbucks stores while mobile phone users who can use Wi-Fi spend about 15 minutes on the network.

After the two-hour window, consumers at the Seattle chain were charged $3.99 for two additional hours.

Officials said Monday that access will continue to be offered through AT&T. But it won't require a Starbucks loyalty card, according to the announcement Monday by CEO Howard Schultz, who spoke at a conference in New York.

The move comes six months after Starbucks' competitor McDonald's Corp. began offering free Wi-Fi at 11,500 U.S. locations.

The two companies have sparred in recent years at McDonald's revamped its coffee and rolled out a successful McCafe line offering everything from drip coffee and lattes to cappuccinos to icy coffee drinks.

Along the way, Starbucks struggled as it was hit by the recession and overwhelmed by its own rapid expansion.

As business soured, it brought back Schultz, who helped build the company, to lead the day-to-day operations. And it shut hundreds of locations and laid off thousands of workers to scale back its spending.

Also Monday, Starbucks said customers will get free access to certain online content through its Wi-Fi this fall. Called the Starbucks Digital Network, the program is a partnership with Yahoo that will give Starbucks Web surfers free access to paid sites like the Wall Street Journal, along with exclusive content and free downloads from other organizations such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes, The New York Times, Patch, USA Today and Zagat.

Starbucks shares climbed 41 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $27.56 in midday trading Monday.

Explore further: T-Mobile gets into the game of laptop connections


Related Stories

T-Mobile gets into the game of laptop connections

March 25, 2009

(AP) -- T-Mobile USA is opening up its new cellular broadband network to laptops for the first time, with Wednesday's launch of a USB "dongle" that lets portable computers get wireless Internet access.

Verizon gives free Wi-Fi to Internet customers

July 27, 2009

(AP) -- Verizon is giving some of its home broadband customers free access to thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots in airports and other public places, taking a page from competitors that already offer wireless Internet access.

Is free Wi-Fi a good deal for coffee shops?

September 30, 2009

Free Wi-Fi has turned coffee shops into de facto work spaces. That's good for a region full of digital nomads armed with laptops who want to escape the isolation of working alone. But it's been a mixed blessing for coffee ...

Wi-Fi for travelers becomes Web marketing lure

November 10, 2009

(AP) -- Google, Yahoo, eBay and Microsoft, competitors on the Web, all have the same idea for marketing themselves this holiday season: temporarily providing free Wi-Fi access in airports, airplanes and public places.

Smart phones are making Wi-Fi hotspots hot again

December 17, 2009

Lisa Helminiak, who uses her iPhone as a computer as much as to talk, has declared her independence from the slow cell phone network. Instead of using AT&T's network, she's using her phone's Wi-Fi capability to connect to ...

Verizon cuts Palm Pre, Pixi Plus prices

April 1, 2010

(AP) -- Verizon Wireless is cutting the prices for Palm's Pre Plus and Pixi Plus smart phones and offering free access to a Wi-Fi service that lets the phones deliver Internet access to other kinds of devices - such as Apple's ...

Recommended for you

Nevada researchers trying to turn roadside weed into biofuel

November 26, 2015

Three decades ago, a University of Nevada researcher who obtained one of the first U.S. Energy Department grants to study the potential to turn plants into biofuels became convinced that a roadside weed—curly top gumweed—was ...

Glider pilots aim for the stratosphere

November 20, 2015

Talk about serendipity. Einar Enevoldson was strolling past a scientist's office in 1991 when he noticed a freshly printed image tacked to the wall. He was thunderstruck; it showed faint particles in the sky that proved something ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) Jun 14, 2010
it ain't free at 3$ a coffee.
not rated yet Jun 15, 2010
I understand that their stores in the Gaza will be offering targeting assistance for their friends.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.