AT&T said today that it will start providing WiFi to more than 7,000 company-owned Starbucks in the U.S. ditching the long-standing partnership Starbucks had with T-Mobile USA. The two companies will offer both free and paid services. Beginning this spring, Starbucks Card holders can use two hours of free Wi-Fi service a day at Starbucks, and if you are one of AT&T’s 12 million broadband or AT&T U-verse customers, you’ll have unlimited access. AT&T said it already offers 17,000 U.S. hot spots in the U.S. and more than 70,000 globally. Release.
Different plans: In addition to free access, customers will be able to purchase tiered access to the AT&T Wi-Fi network at Starbucks: two hours for “just” $3.99; monthly subscription for $19.99 includes access to any of AT&T’s 70,000 hot spots in 89 countries. Starbucks “partners” — ie employees — will get free access.
Upgrade: AT&T is upgrading Starbucks’ network with more bandwidth and redundancy.
Availability: The market-by-market rollout starts this spring and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Common denominator: Starbucks and AT&T have Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) in common. AT&T, of course, partners with Apple on the iPhone while Starbucks and Apple launched an iTunes partnership late last year. Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment, singled out iTunes in his comments about the deal allowing Starbucks “to expand and enhance the range of digital entertainment experiences for our customers as well as our partners, including the continued rollout of the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store…”
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