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Starbucks Turns on Free Wi-Fi Today



Families on vaca­tion and busi­ness trav­el­ers across the US and Canada now have more options to grab a bit of free Wi-Fi while on the road.

Today, July 1, 2010, Starbucks will turn on free Wi-Fi with one click  at all U.S. and Canadian company-operated stores. Customers with Wi-Fi-enabled lap­tops, tablets and mobile phones will have unlim­ited Internet access to surf the Web, con­nect with social net­works, search for hotels and local attrac­tions, and more at any Starbucks. Most recently, the free Wi-Fi ben­e­fit was lim­ited to two hours a day and only avail­able to mem­bers of the My Starbucks Rewards pro­gram. The new, unlim­ited Wi-Fi offer­ing fea­tures a one-click entry point, so a user­name or pass­word will not be required.

Our cus­tomers were ask­ing for a sim­pli­fied Wi-Fi offer­ing, and free Wi-Fi has been a top request on MyStarbucksIdea.com. We’re excited to turn this feed­back into action and believe our cus­tomers will be delighted with the enhanced expe­ri­ence they’ll find in Starbucks stores,” said Howard Schultz, chair­man, pres­i­dent and chief exec­u­tive offi­cer of Starbucks.

Starbucks will con­tinue to work with AT&T in the U.S. as its Wi-Fi provider, a rela­tion­ship that’s been in place since 2008. Close to 6800 Starbucks loca­tions are part of AT&T’s U.S. Wi-Fi net­work, the nation’s largest. In Canada, more than 750 company-operated stores will now have free Wi-Fi. Bell is the Wi-Fi provider in Canada and has worked with Starbucks since 2005.

As Schultz noted at the WIRED Business Conference on June 14th, the addi­tion of one click, free Wi-Fi to the Starbucks cus­tomer expe­ri­ence is just the begin­ning. Later this fall, Starbucks plans to intro­duce the Starbucks Digital Network, in part­ner­ship with Yahoo!. This new online expe­ri­ence, cur­rently planned for U.S. company-operated stores, will offer cus­tomers free, unre­stricted access to a col­lec­tion of paid sites and ser­vices, exclu­sive con­tent and pre­views, free down­loads and local com­mu­nity news.

Bringing one click, free Wi-Fi to Starbucks opens up new oppor­tu­ni­ties for our cus­tomers and gives us the back­drop to con­tinue to bring inno­va­tion to their in-store expe­ri­ence. We’re find­ing new ways to bridge the third place cof­fee­house envi­ron­ment with the dig­i­tal space, and look for­ward to shar­ing that with our cus­tomers,” said Stephen Gillett, Starbucks exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent, chief infor­ma­tion offi­cer and gen­eral man­ager of Digital Ventures.

Having recently returned from a trip where I was happy to get free Wi-Fi at some of the local places we stopped to eat, and frus­trated with some of the places we were in that I couldn’t, I can attest to how nice it is to be able to sit down for a few min­utes and catch up on emails, look up hotel loca­tions and con­tact info, check road and traf­fic reports, and all sorts of other lit­tle travel chores.

Since Starbucks stores are all over the place, it’s a no-brainer, espe­cially for busi­ness trav­el­ers, to stop in for a Latte and enjoy a con­nec­tion to the inter­net as well. Provided you can find a place to sit, that is!


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