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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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  • Yay! (Score:5, Funny)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:08PM (#32573100)
    Now I can get a small cup of coffee and free WiFI for only $7!
    • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Informative)

      by selven (1556643) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:16PM (#32573186)

      You do realize that you can, even before this change, use Starbucks's wifi without ever buying a single thing from them?

      Also, try tea. It's cheaper.

      • Re:Yay! (Score:4, Funny)

        by 2.7182 (819680) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:34PM (#32573338)
        Even better - I go with my mug and just fill it with half-and-half and drink that all morning. Then by lunch time I so full I don't need to eat. Free dairy! mmmm.....
        • by gad_zuki! (70830)

          La-dee-da! Aren't you Mr. Millionaire! I fill a mug with my fresh warm urine in the morning and go through Starbucks dumpsters looking for used tea bags and yesterday's lemons!

      • by MrCrassic (994046)
        Tea tastes just like water, and everyone who's said different puts tons upon TONS of sugar to make the taste pop.

        I'm pretty sure I've tried the "legit" teas too and felt the same way.

        I really would switch to tea if it weren't for that. Until then, dame mas cafe!
        • by Hadlock (143607)

          Tea tastes like water polluted with cured leaves.

          That said, it makes lake water (most of the drinking water in Texas is sanitized lake water) taste less horrible. Especially in July/August when the lakewater inverts and tastes bad enough that the local water companies put out statements and buy ads to tell the public that it's safe to drink.

          In addition to masking flavors, it also gives soft water some flavor. You might have amazing stream fed, high mineral content, low chlorine tap water tha

        • by clifyt (11768)

          Sugar in tea? Seriously? That ruins it. That said, I grab about 3 or 4 green iced teas from SB's every day...no added water, no syrup (they make it strong so they can store it smaller containers, and dilute it when fixing the drink).

          So drink it strong...and it won't taste like water.

          • by MrCrassic (994046)
            I tried that and it didn't taste like water; it just tasted like more of stuff I didn't like. But I will give it another shot someday when I get tired of drinking coffee.
          • Sugar in tea? Seriously? That ruins it.

            You clearly are not from the southern US [wikipedia.org].

            So drink it strong...and it won't taste like water.

            Strong does not automatically mean tasty. In fact bad tea that is strong is worse than bad tea that is weak.

        • by Eudial (590661)

          Uh, if water tastes something, you may want to check into getting a different source of water.

          • Uh, if water tastes something, you may want to check into getting a different source of water.

            Virtually all water (except distilled) has taste. Trace amounts of various impurities can actually be desirable. If it tastes BAD you might want to get a different source.

      • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Funny)

        by Yvan256 (722131) on Monday June 14, 2010 @10:41PM (#32574146) Homepage Journal

        Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)

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

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

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Runaway1956 (1322357)

        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 the

        • 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.
          • "If people feel like dressing up"

            gag *cough* gag

            I think that I used the word "posers" earlier. Maybe more people should get real lives.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by jvkjvk (102057)

              We all pose for society.

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

              Regards.

        • by MrCrassic (994046)
          Actually, Starbucks has some of the best beans in the world and are highly ranked in coffee tastings and such. The only problem is that they sell the low-grade shit; their Pike Place roast is fucking terrible (it's their cheapest roast), but their Bold roasts are much better.

          I also highly disagree that most restaurants sell "real" coffee. I've been to tons of restaurants/diners/coffee shops across the country and have only been to a select few that don't sell watered-down bullshit that people pass as dec
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Wireless Joe (604314)

          What Starbucks offers has almost nothing in common with coffee.

          You mean, except for their brewed coffee [starbucks.com]
          that starts at around a buck and includes free refills? It's easy to hate the frou-frou drinks they serve, but the still do offer basic coffee at reasonable prices.

        • You know, it IS possible some people enjoy frappucinos (or whatever Caribou's equivalent is), and that it has nothing to do with being pretentious. Some people (GASP) actually enjoy some of the drinks you can get there once in a blue moon. And "most restaurants" dont really offer anything beyond coffee-- every try asking for an espresso at a restaurant? And have you seen how much McDonalds charges for a tiny iced coffee?

          Dont get me wrong, I drink there maybe once a month-- and that mainly because ive
    • You should try Breugger's Begals. For only a few pennies more, you can get a smaller portion that tastes like ass.
    • by Graff (532189)

      Now I can get a small cup of coffee and free WiFI for only $7!

      Yeah, that's mildy funny and you scored some points with the moderators. Grats for finding the low-hanging fruit!

      Honestly though, as long as you aren't getting all of those espresso shots, flavored syrups, and other strange add-ons the price of a plain coffee at Starbucks is about the same as the stuff at their competitors. A coffee the same size at Dunkin Donuts is about the same price as one at Starbucks.

      If you really want to save money you can go to a diner or a local mom-and-pop place and get coffee for

      • Try bringing a thermos with your own coffee. That way, even in an unfamiliar place you have guaranteed quality at a price that beats all the local stores!
    • I know people like to make fun of Starbucks for "$7" coffee, but last time I visited one here in Seattle, a 20 ounce drip was under $2.
    • by Like2Byte (542992)

      I remember a recent trip to a Tulsa, OK Starbucks after having not visited one for over 2 years. I walked in, asked the associate, "You guys have free WiFi?"

      He replied, "Yeah."

      I said, "Ok, I'll have %FAVORITE_DRINK% and a Scone."

      He said, "Alright, that will be $7.00."

      So I pony up the dough and break out my laptop. I connect to the access point and instantly hit the login screen. I ask him why there's a log in screen and he replies, "Oh, to reach the internet you gotta pay three bucks." So I ask, "So, the

      • by snooo53 (663796) *
        So to punish them you left a scone and a coffee that you already paid for? face palm, indeed.
  • 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.
    • 1999's era of Internet Cafes was in part created by the overheatted economy. Then when things got bad, business started to charge more for everything. Now the economy is showing signs of not getting worse, which is usually the first step towards getting better and....

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Darinbob (1142669)
      And I'm still not interested in using any wifi device in a coffee shop. And not interested in drinking coffee either. Or hanging out with the sorts of people who hang out in coffee shops.

      Sometimes it's nice to actually NOT be connected to the internet.
      • Re:Finally (Score:5, Funny)

        by michaelhood (667393) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @12:08AM (#32574658)

        And I'm still not interested in using any wifi device in a coffee shop. And not interested in drinking coffee either. Or hanging out with the sorts of people who hang out in coffee shops.

        Sometimes it's nice to actually NOT be connected to the internet.

        Thanks for sharing. I'll look for next week's post about you not watching TV.

    • 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.

      • by MrCrassic (994046)

        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.

        How can you compete against the distributor that has a damn shop on every other corner on an avenue?

        • Where I live, there's only one Starbucks that I know of within several miles, and it's often almost empty. Meanwhile, there are loads of coffee shops and bakeries-- probably at least 8 that have better coffee than Starbucks within 2 miles, all of which offer free WiFi.

          I recognize that's not common, and I'm sure part of the reason it works out is that I live in an area that values good coffee and will give an independent coffee shop a chance. Still, it's better coffee, often cheaper coffee, better service

          • by MrCrassic (994046)
            ...and provided that they're in the right area. You can't really compete with Starbucks in the urban space, as they will just open another store two blocks down where more folks waiting to be assimilated by the corporates that be will willing shell $3.95 three times a day for weak lattes.

            This isn't so much the case in a place like, say, Martinez, CA.
      • 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 have little interest in Starbucks coffee myself but "better" and "nicer" are subjective in this case and I've rarely found any coffee shop in the last 10 years that was actually much cheaper. They won't stay in business long selling just $1.00 cups of black coffee. Not enough profit and not enough differentiation [wikipedia.org] to do that.

        You're right about the free wifi though.

        I don't know how Starbucks expects to compete.

        Starbucks competes the same way McDonalds and Coke compete. A familiar product that enough people like that is consistent no matter where you

        • Yeah, sure, you can argue all taste is completely subjective, that nothing is better or worse, that it's all subjective. Poop tastes as good as ice cream, maybe? Whatever.

          Anyway, I have no problem with Starbucks. I just think they provide an inferior product to what I can get elsewhere. When I lived in a different place that had fewer choices, that wasn't the case.

          • by sjbe (173966)

            Yeah, sure, you can argue all taste is completely subjective, that nothing is better or worse, that it's all subjective. Poop tastes as good as ice cream, maybe? Whatever.

            Don't be a moron. We're talking about coffee here, not some deep philosophical relativism. Pointing out that taste in coffee and the places that sell coffee is subjective is not remotely the same thing as claiming all tastes are good or equivalent or that there is no such thing as bad coffee. You don't have to care about Starbucks one way or the other to understand how it is that they succeed.

    • The joke is that it took them this long. Paying for wifi is such a 2004 thing.

      And a 'not-too-distant-future' thing. Sadly.

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      I would imagine they signed multi-year agreements with certain cell phone carriers (AT&T? T-Mobile?) that gave their users free wifi access while others would have to pay. This created a new selling point to get people to switch to their cell phone service. Starbucks may have been contractually obligated to charge a reasonable amount for wifi through the end of the contracts.

    • by initialE (758110)

      The problem with free unencrypted wifi is that it is a risk you take every time you connect. It's pretty trivial to spy on your activities - all it takes is to run a repeater and transparent proxy, and even if all you are doing is going onto facebook, there are probably ways to turn the information that people can collect about you, against your interests.

      • unless you run it through a proxy:
        ssh -2ND 1080 username@some-server-you-can-ssh-into
        Then config your browser to localhost:1080 as a socks proxy.
  • by Pojut (1027544) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:11PM (#32573136) Homepage

    For a long time, our local Starbucks was primarily dominated by Apple laptops. About a year ago, seemingly overnight, the ratio shifted; hardly a MacBook to be seen. Now, it's gotten back to 50/50, but the majority of Apple users there are either holding an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad.

    Has anyone else noticed this kind of shift at their local haunts?

  • by blair1q (305137)

    I see the business model here.

    People willing to pay $5 for mediocre coffee and the chance to overhear inane babble conducted by other people willing to pay $5 for mediocre coffee will, pretty much, pay for anything.

    But if what they're paying for wants to pay the fee for them, we'll give them free access to that.

    • 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: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.

        • by hedwards (940851)
          Probably because consumers demand air conditioning, or they won't even go into a store, let alone buy anything. And wi-fi a business doesn't even get people in to look at things let alone buy them when they're using the next from a half block away.

          But there's also the fact that Starbucks and these places don't generally provide the infrastructure, 3rd parties do, and getting them to do so is tough. Starbucks wanted to do this a while ago, but couldn't as it wasn't really their wi-fi to give away. AT&
        • Here, high-speed internet is about $40/month for a residential address, but $300/month for business (with a cap of either 50 or 200 GB, depending on who you're dealing with). The speeds aren't that much different than residential, but you get web space and five shiny static IPs.

          I doubt any small-ish coffee house would require a FT3 or T3, but it does make me wonder what "options" for connections they are even offered as a business. The cost of wireless itself could be essentially nil as you could do one o

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        As I pointed out above, many sponsorless mom-and-pop style places whose prices are less than or equal to(and food and drink quality is much greater than) Starbucks have been providing free wifi for years, even on the beach in tourist-gouging San Diego -- where a mandadory 12% tourist tax is slapped on top of all hotel stays.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Saint Stephen (19450)

      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.

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        Since starbucks is the creation of lots of money, and nothing to spend it on. Lowering the price is the opposite. I've never liked their coffee anyway. Second cup is much better.

  • What the? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:18PM (#32573202)

    Did nobody else catch this?

    "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."

    It's not "free unlimited access." It's "free unlimited access to select Starbucks-chosen sites, most of them you have to pay for."

    • Re:What the? (Score:4, Informative)

      by rockNme2349 (1414329) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:25PM (#32573266)

      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.

      It sounds to me like they will get free WiFi access to the internet, as well as a free pass around a couple pay-walled websites, although neither the article or the summary explicitly says it.

    • Re:What the? (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheKidWho (705796) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:27PM (#32573288)

      You read it wrong, they are providing free access to paywalled sites like wsj.com. Similar to the system a University has in place with research journals.

    • Re:What the? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Graff (532189) on Monday June 14, 2010 @09:00PM (#32573512)

      It's not "free unlimited access." It's "free unlimited access to select Starbucks-chosen sites, most of them you have to pay for."

      You already get free, unrestricted access to any site if you use a Starbucks card [starbucks.com]. You get the card for free, throw a few bucks on it, and use it for purchases. As long as you make 1 purchase a month (of any amount) you get free access for the month. They also give you other perks like free addons (flavored syrup and such), free refills, and every so often they send you a card for a free drink of any kind you want.

      I'm not big on using cards like this but they do compensate you pretty well for using it.

      My big quibble with all of these "click to log on" types of systems is they are a pain in the butt. Say I just want to check my e-mail or do something else that's not HTTP, I can't do it unless I load up my web browser, visit any web site, get redirected to their landing page, and do their login dance. It's a huge waste of time, there should be some way for them to build their login directly into the wifi login to avoid HTTP if we aren't currently using it.

      Not to mention that they all have some odd reasons for timing out the login and I'll be in the middle of doing something (like a Slashdot post!) and it fails because I have to re-login. What a pain in the ass!

    • Re:What the? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Graff (532189) on Monday June 14, 2010 @09:06PM (#32573562)

      It's not "free unlimited access." It's "free unlimited access to select Starbucks-chosen sites, most of them you have to pay for."

      Oh, and if you go directly to the Starbucks press release [tekgroup.com] linked in the article:

      As part of this commitment, Schultz recognized customers' desire for a better in store Wi-Fi experience and announced that on July 1, Starbucks will turn on one-click, free Wi-Fi through AT&T in all U.S. company operated stores.

      Building on the Wi-Fi update, Schultz also revealed plans for a new online customer experience called the Starbucks Digital Network, in partnership with Yahoo!, which will debut later this fall. This online experience - available only in U.S. company operated Starbucks stores - will be unique in its content offerings, allowing customers free unrestricted access to various paid sites and services such as wsj.com, exclusive content and previews, free downloads, local community news and activities, on their laptops, tablets or smart phones.

      So it's both free access to the entire internet and free, unrestricted access to sites that you might normally pay for such as wsj.com.

    • Good thing I live in Olympia, about 60 miles from Starbucks HQ. Somehow I'll bet most of the corporate stores around the Puget Sound will have free wifi. As well as... oh yes, the one that's closest to the State Capital Campus in downtown Oly. Works for me. Now I don't have to go to some grungy weirdo hippie coffee shop just to get free wifi. I can go to a nice happy corporate coffee shop that doesn't pretend to be edgy, hip and cool simply because they cater to the liberal nutter crowd. Never thought
    • by Wiseleo (15092)

      That statement likely means "You normally have to pay for it, but now you can access wsj.com at no extra charge from a Starbucks-hosted network in addition to the rest of the Internet". I don't think that's a bad thing. :)

  • Interesting here that WSJ is willing to open a hole in their paywall for users at Starbucks... typically this is done so that customers will get hooked on the concept and pay to have access everywhere. Could they be behind paying Starbucks' Internet service bill?

    • by hedwards (940851)
      More likely, Starbucks is trying to attract and retain business people at their locations and is willing to pay a bit to do so.
  • by darjen (879890) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:19PM (#32573218)

    Business adding more value for customers.

  • There is no way to spin this positively. Starbucks is doing this, for example, because I have three coffeshops, 3 bars, and 4 MacDonalds that will give me free access within an area that has three starbucks that want to charge me for the access. This is why it has been forever since I have gone to Starbucks. Now that they offer free access, I might go in while traveling, but that is about it.

    We hear that people just sit around and use the internet without buying anything. I don't see this. I see peop

  • by brit74 (831798)
    I'm not even sure what this story is talking about. For the past few years, all the Starbucks in my area (Denver) simply require you to get a (free) Starbucks gift card and sign-up for free wifi. As long as you have some activity on the card within the past 30 days (either putting money on the card or using it to pay for something), then you get free wifi. They say that you only get 2-hours of wifi per day (not two hours total, as this story implies), but I've never been kicked off their system. And the
  • "There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - or drinks would cost half as much"

    RAH

    • At Genting in Malaysia internet cafe's were charging "daylight robbery" rates so I went to Starbucks and got charged similar rates for coffee but the wifi is free (I thought all starbucks stores had that). Anyway I went back the next day and just sat outside and used their wifi but they banned my mac address when I hit 30 MB download.

      My eeepc is banned from about half the wifi hotspots in malaysia, or it seems that way anyway.

  • US Only? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Okonomiyaki (662220) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:27PM (#32573290) Homepage

    Please bring this to Japan. It is impossible to find free wifi here. SBC used to have it but they seem to have completely folded.

    • by macshit (157376)

      Please bring this to Japan. It is impossible to find free wifi here. SBC used to have it but they seem to have completely folded.

      There are still SBC shops in Japan (e.g., there's one near shinjuku stn), but yeah, many fewer than there were 10 years ago... a shame since they generally seemed seemed nicer than sbux, with better coffee too.

  • What?! (Score:2, Funny)

    by snikulin (889460)

    You mean that SSID "very poor Mom-n-Pop shop" I use all the time for donwloading iTune HD content is not Starbucks'?
    Oops!

  • By registering a Starbucks card and buying with it once a month, customers already got 2 hrs/day of free wifi with the AT&T hotspots in Starbucks coffeeshops, and I'm pretty sure I occasionaly stayed longer than that without being disconnected. Also most of the Starbucks in my area are, for example, Verizon hotspots that could be used by Verizon customers, and I noticed that because I am one, it could also apply to other ISPs.

  • First Starbucks was teamed with T-Mobile. You got a relatively easy to find set of [pay] WiFi hotspots around the U.S. that all worked with a single account.

    Next Starbucks teamed up with AT&T for limited free WiFi and gave free WiFi to iPhone users. Slow phase-out of T-Mobile from Starbucks.

    Now Starbucks is offering unlimited WiFi through Yahoo!. Does this mean the slow phaseout of AT&T from Starbucks?

    They did seem to hold on to the pay model for quite a long time. Perhaps they were just waiting

  • by rueger (210566)
    In these parts pretty much every coffee joint offers free Wifi, plus much better coffee than Starbucks.

    Our local chain [wavescoffee.ca] offers really good food, super staff, good coffee, and they encourage people to hang out, chat, and work. They may not turn over the space as frequently as Starbucks, but the shop is always full, and people keep coming back.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by macshit (157376)

      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 th

  • So.. you pay $1 to register... and get a card... and then you can either:

    1) Pay $3.99/hr after 2hrs.
    2) Pay $1 again to register again, and get another card, which works for at least 2hrs each day.

    Please choose.

    (In practice, worldwide, if the bloody access points work, then it is rare that the time limit is enforced.)

  • by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated@emaELIOT.il minus poet> on Monday June 14, 2010 @09:52PM (#32573856) Journal
    This is a great announcement for those that consider Starbucks the only "real" cafe in their vicinity, i.e. suburban areas. Before I started branching out for different places to work at, I thought the same way: Starbucks has huge sit-downs with tons of outlets and decent coffee, so why should I have to look anywhere else?

    This year, however, I've learned how far from the truth that notion really is. While I still stop at some Starbucks places sometimes when I'm on the move, I always prefer to do my work at a smaller, more personal cafe. They are usually much smaller than Starbucks and are definitely not as widespread., but the key is that they usually serve REAL food (in fact, some coffee shop owners grow their own fruits/vegetables in the cafe's backyard) and REALLY good coffee at cheaper prices. Additionally, the handful of people that run these cafes actually like their jobs, which I'd wager is probably because the patrons of such coffee houses are not the type that only care about getting their morning fix, regardless of their attitude. (They are almost universally Mac users, though.) It also helps that these places almost always have free Wi-Fi and MUCH better music selections.

    I know I'm already way off-base (go ahead and mod me down if you think so, though if you've read this far, why would you?), but it also saddens me how Starbucks managed to turn the cafe into a McDonald's like franchise, drive-thrus, working conditions and all. From the many baristas that I've shot the shit with, their jobs really suck and are akin to working at McDonald's (minus the low pay and usually inept managers), which is exactly OPPOSITE to the way working at cafes should be. They're experimenting with starting a new tea house branch; I wonder how that'll work for them in the long run.

    Nonetheless, free Wi-Fi is always good Wi-Fi.
  • It's hard enough trying to find a place to sit down, now with people getting free "unlimited" (exact details to be clarified at some point) without having someone use their local starbucks as a library and occupying the seating while they research their doctoral thesis or pontificate how they'll write the next great blog.

    I just want a place to sit for 10minutes while I drink my beverage. I don't care if they give away free wifi, but they should install "parking meters" on the seats.

  • by rubenerd (998797) on Monday June 14, 2010 @10:40PM (#32574130) Homepage

    Probably not all that relevant to this discussion, but my SG$0.02.

    All the Starbucks branches here in Singapore have free WiFi provided you register first, it's part of the government's Wireless@SG initiative, which I can forgive the corny 1990s name for because it Just Works. The irony is this free internet is faster and more reliable than the ADSL I was paying a small fortune for back in Australia!

    There's a huge coffee shop culture here. It's really fascinating to see Starbucks (and Coffee Bean, and Killiney etc), even at 11pm they're absolutely packed with students studying on their MacBooks and business folk frantically typing away. I asked a few local friends why, and mostly it's because apartments here are so small an overpriced cup of coffee is a small price to pay for a comfy chair, relaxing music and a place to do some work on the Internets without your siblings making noise in your ear.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @01:39AM (#32574970) Homepage

    A few years ago, there was a modernistic little tea shop in Palo Alto which not only had free WiFi, but electric outlets at every table. So the place was full of people with laptops. It was very quiet. Nobody talked.

    They didn't buy much, though. The woman behind the counter had so little to do that she was usually reading (a book, not a screen, typically some 19th century classic; she was a philosophy major.) The place lasted about six months. Then it went over to being a coffee bar. That didn't work either. Now it's a yogurt place, with few tables and no available power outlets.

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @05:14AM (#32575722)

    ...so all of the Apple fanbois can position themselves in such a way as to reflect the light from the little silver apple directly into the eyes of customers coming into the store.

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