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Wireless Networking

Starbucks Frees Wi-Fi 241

Posted by kdawson
from the free-as-in-coffee dept.
CWmike sends in this excerpt from Computerworld: "Free unlimited Wi-Fi is coming to nearly 7,000 company-operated Starbucks stores in the US beginning July 1, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said on Monday. Schultz also said that Starbucks is partnering with Yahoo! to debut the Starbucks Digital Network this fall. Starbucks customers will have free unrestricted access to various paid sites and services, such as wsj.com, as well as other free downloads Starbucks didn't detail. A spokeswoman said the access will be 'unlimited' and 'simplified, one-click.' By comparison, first-time Wi-Fi users in Starbucks stores now get up to two hours free after registering, but then must purchase additional time at the rate of $3.99 for two consecutive hours. That Wi-Fi access is already free to AT&T DSL home customers and AT&T mobile customers, according to the Starbucks website, but the connection process requires up to nine steps. McDonald's added free Wi-Fi to 11,500 locations earlier this year."
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Starbucks Frees Wi-Fi

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  • Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by areusche (1297613) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:08PM (#32573102)
    The joke is that it took them this long. Paying for wifi is such a 2004 thing.
  • Re:sure. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:17PM (#32573188)
    Really it's free-WiFi-as-long-as-we-have-a-sponsor that's catching on. AT&T sponsored it for their own customers at McDonald's and StarBucks for a while... now there's a deal in place to open it up to everybody, but that will likely only last as long as there's somebody other than Starbucks paying for it.
  • Re:Yay! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by maxume (22995) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:32PM (#32573328)

    If it costs more than $3 it isn't coffee anymore.

    Most of the time, that also works for $2.

  • Re:sure. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:41PM (#32573398) Journal

    I've always been lost as to the reason WiFi needs to be so heavily monetized.

    I mean: It's a business, right? Presumably, in the course of running the business, they already have a need for Internet access -- that it exists, and is working, is a foregone conclusion.

    Why is it that companies (like, say, Starbucks and McDonald's) have found that it's so bloody expensive to open the pipe up for random folks to use? The initial investment of cabling in an AP or two is pretty small, even with union labor. Configuration should be near-zero cost, as since there are thousands of devices and they can all be set up pretty much identically in advance.

    I realize that the fact that it's cheap doesn't mean that it's free, but geez. Air conditioning is more expensive to offer than free WiFi, but we don't see ever see them charging extra (or looking for looking for sponsorships -- WTF?) for that.

    My favorite local coffee shop has offered free 802.11 since before the term "WiFi" existed, and still has functional Ethernet jacks beside the tables that are left over from the time before anything wireless was common. I'd like to suggest that they've got more invested their network than any particular Starbucks, that the coffee is better and cheaper, and that the barristas are more nubile. Oh, and it's air conditioned, too. ;)

    Someone please enlighten me.

  • Re:sure. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Saint Stephen (19450) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:51PM (#32573458) Homepage Journal

    They lowered the price of a coffee to 1.50. With the card it's free refills and free flavored syrups. With the flavored syrup, it's getting damn close to being a good enough replacement for the $4 drinks. My wife and I have oddly started spending a lot more bread at starbucks since we discovered this.

    They'll probably raise the price again.

  • Re:Yay! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday June 14, 2010 @09:07PM (#32573574) Homepage Journal

    I didn't even see a story here worth commenting on - til I read your comment.

    Coffee costs a buck to a buck and a half in most restaurants. Real coffee. What Starbucks offers has almost nothing in common with coffee. Flavorings? Cream and/or sugar. Want something rather exotic? Espresso, or cappuccino. All the rest of what Starbucks offers is just so much pretentious bullshit.

    Starbucks is what happens when to many people have more money than sense.

    Posers and wannabes gather anywhere and everywhere they can, trying to be "cool". We saw the same thing a generation or so back, with "Cafe Racers" and "Truckstop Cowboys". You couldn't find a real racer or a real cowboy in the same room with either of them.

  • Re:Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday June 14, 2010 @09:23PM (#32573664) Homepage

    Exactly. Every independent coffee shop I've gone into in the past 5 years has had free WiFi. It's often better coffee, cheaper, nicer atmosphere, and free WiFi. I don't know how Starbucks expects to compete.

    But then, I live in an area that has a lot of independent coffee shops and not a lot of Starbucks locations, so I guess they're not competing.

  • Re:BFD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by macshit (157376) <milesNO@SPAMgnu.org> on Monday June 14, 2010 @09:40PM (#32573772) Homepage

    In these parts pretty much every coffee joint offers free Wifi, plus much better coffee than Starbucks.

    I don't think sbux is really competing on quality or value though. They're trying to be the "good enough" ubiquitous choice. Locals and those in the know may go to delicious and funky local coffee-shops with free wifi, but there's always a lot of people who don't know, or just don't care, and if there's a sbux every 5m, all of which offer products and atmosphere you're already familiar with...

    [I think this sort of "comfortable homogenization" is sort of depressing, but it's clearly a business strategy that works. And I admit, when I want a quick coffee, given the choice between a 10 minute walk to a nice local cafe and the sbux right in front of me, I'll often choose the latter... my bad I suppose:( ]

  • Re:Yay! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by schon (31600) on Monday June 14, 2010 @09:45PM (#32573802)

    Funny, but I liked the opening scene to "Role Models" [youtube.com] better - with the exception of "Congratulations, you're stupid in three languages", it was almost word-for-word my first experience with Starbucks.

  • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2010 @09:56PM (#32573886)
    Starbucks offera real coffee, in three fairly standard sizes, for prices not out of line with similar establishments. In spite of their lack of Fair Trade credentials, they pay more to the farmers who grow their beans than most companies ( contributing to the price ). Restaurants may also be offering you discounted coffee as a lure to customers who may also purchase meals.

    Most of what Starbucks offers is espresso or cappucino... with flavors... toward the goal of making them delicious. It doesn't seem terribly pretentious to me. It would seem more pretentious if they refused to offer anything but drip, espresso, or cappucino on grounds of purity.

    They haven't brainwashed hipsters with a ray gun. They offer products that people like to drink, at prices they are willing to pay, in a clean, pleasant establishment.

    Starbucks is what happens when many people have money. The two conclusions one can draw from your original statement are that nobody deserves to make enough money that they can enjoy an occasional trip to Starbucks, and/or that everyone who enjoys it enough to pay the asked price is stupider than you.

    Racing is dangerous, and being a cowboy would be, for many people, tedious and unfulfilling. And yet both professions boast a stylish, dramatic wardrobe. A character in a cartoon once said that a great man once said that to be truly human is to be constantly experimenting. If people feel like dressing up to change how other people view them, or they view themselves, do they deserve to be pissed on? They're trying something. Kudos to them. They're meeting their friends at a location they enjoy. Is that something that should be frowned upon? Are "real" racers and "real" cowboys superior human beings? Is it because they're so damned authentic in their attire? Many racers are initially drawn to the sport for the "cool" it lends. Is it still authentic, as long as they risk their lives for it?

    Starbucks is a place for normal people to purchase a good tasting drink, which they may or may not consume on a comfortable couch in subdued lighting. Some of them are pretentious. Some cowboys are pretentious, too.
  • Re:Yay! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @05:45AM (#32575822) Homepage Journal

    Hand on, what's in the middle if small isn't there? Does it go "large", "even larger", and "so fucking large it's unbelievable" or something retarded like that?

  • Re:Yay! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jvkjvk (102057) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @07:31AM (#32576216)

    We all pose for society.

    To pretend that you do not is simply hiding that truth from yourself.

    Regards.

  • by bodland (522967) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:45AM (#32578268) Homepage
    Inside the WalMart...Now has free WiFi...??

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