Coffee Boost for AT&T WiFi

(28 Apr 2008, BWCS Staff)

AT&T has announced the start of its roll out of free WiFi services in 7,000 US Starbucks coffee houses. The Chairman and CEO of the US telco, Randall Stephenson, told shareholders recently that the two companies have already started the deployment of AT&T WiFi service at Starbucks locations in San Antonio. The move means that AT&T will take-over from T-Mobile as the primary supplier of WiFi in the café chain.

In February of this year, Starbucks announced that it planned to tear up its previous WiFi agreement - first made with MobileStar then with T-Mobile - and that it would switch to AT&T. The move will now wipe 7,000 of T-Mobile's 9,000 WiFi locations out and transform AT&T from a hotspot provider chiefly involved with McDonald's restaurants, plus some hotels and airports to a relative giant with over 17,000 hotspot locations across the US. It also means that AT&T's broadband customer base of 17 million business and residential users will gain free access to WiFi at the coffee house chain.

The history of WiFi in Starbucks has been checkered to say the least. At first the deal to put hotspots into every café was hailed as a breakthrough in the WiFi market and seemed to herald an era where W-Lan hotspots could come to challenge mobile networks for a large section of the wireless data market.

However, in April 2003, whilst partnered with T-Mobile, Starbucks shocked the WiFi industry when it let slip that an average hotspot outlet was attracting a mere 17 users per week. Since then the popular coffee house chain has not divulged usage figures but has continually emphasised how fast its service is gaining in popularity.

As of May 1st this year, qualifying AT&T customers will be able to connect to the Internet from WiFi enabled company-operated Starbucks locations nationwide by simply selecting "ATTWiFi" after powering up their laptops. Free AT&T WiFi service is currently offered with AT&T's three higher-speed residential broadband packages, all small business broadband packages and with all AT&T U-verse(SM) offerings with high speed Internet service.


website by gomango