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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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