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Starbucks Drops T-Mobile For AT&T

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the too-little-too-latte dept.

Businesses 207

stoolpigeon writes "Ars reports that Starbucks is replacing T-Mobile with AT&T as their Wi-Fi provider. AT&T broadband customers will be able to access the service for free. Starbucks card users will get 2 hours a day free. 2-hour, daily, and monthly rates will be lower than they were with T-Mobile. Starbucks says that their previously announced deal to tie in with iTunes will continue under AT&T. For now AT&T isn't offering free Wi-Fi to iPhone users, but says it expects to accommodate them soon. Quoting the article: 'The companies didn't specify exactly when the rollout would begin, only saying that it would take place this spring... [The company plans] to install all new equipment at Starbucks as part of this agreement, so the changeover won't be as simple as flipping a switch.'"

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Fr05ty p155 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22388132)

First bitches!

Hooray? (5, Informative)

Arclight17 (812976) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388146)

If I want wireless while I'm out and about, I go to Panera or a local cafe that offers it for free....
So BFD if it changes!
I use http://www.wififreespot.com/ [wififreespot.com] to find free wifi when I'm away from home. (No, I don't work for them or get money for it :)

Re:Hooray? (4, Informative)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388158)

If you RTFA, you'll see that people who use one of those Starbucks cards at the register (which you can fill by dropping some cash in it once in a while) will get 2 hours of no-extra-charge WiFi while they're there. Sure you can be a parasite at Panera without buying anything, but it's fairly bad form. Starbucks will get clobbered on bandwidth, but they'll sell some more coffee, and they'll earn a little interest on the $5 everyone will have sitting on those pre-loaded cards.

Re:Hooray? (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388284)

That's pretty bad ass about the card. I typically buy a NYT every day at lunch - now I can eat my (bag) lunch at SB and (hopefully meet the minimum purchase on the card) and surf the web.

Re:Hooray? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22388808)

The new york times is nothing but a complete pack of drivel-laden liberal mouthpiece lies. I had no idea so much yellow journalism could even fit between one rubber band until I had the misfortune to pick one up in, you guessed it, a Starbucks a few weeks ago. I flipped to the editorials and wouldn't you guess, there was some idiot trying to besmirch the troops with shameful lies. This imbecile had the temerity to assert that the murder rate among ex-combat vets was somehow out of control and Something Has To Be Done About It(TM). Only thing is, if one has the intellectual honesty to actually look at the real statistics compiled by the justice department, you'd see that the homicide rate of war veterans is in fact several times lower than that of the general population in the same age group. Of course, your typical frappucino drinking new york lies reading pinhead wouldn't have the sense to question such sage wisdom.

It makes me sick.

Re:Hooray? (-1, Offtopic)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388926)

lawls @ your troll
 
+1 hillarious
 
nyt is the only paper i can buy across the street from my work that has any decent national/world coverage

Re:Hooray? (3, Insightful)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388308)

Why be a parasite? Panera has coffee too. I'm in total agreement with the OP, any coffee shop worth spending any time in already has free wifi. Who needs Starbucks?

Re:Hooray? (2, Insightful)

EggyToast (858951) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388392)

Places like Baltimore, which have no good coffee shops. There's an area near my work that has 1 starbucks and 3 local shops. The 3 local shops serve bad coffee and have a horrible attitude, but offer free wireless. Unsurprisingly, no one there is ever using a laptop. At starbucks, where you have to pay to use it? Packed. Consistently packed, at that, with paying wireless users.

Maybe it's cos they make your coffee, however you like it, and still smile about it (no eye rolling or snooty remarks). Maybe it's a consistent cup of coffee (consistency is worth something to some people). I've been places where starbucks is low rung on the ladder (the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus is a great example), but in a lot of places they provide a service that no one else wants to provide (custom coffee with a smile). That's worth something to a lot of people.

Re:Hooray? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388598)

That's true, I guess I'm just lucky to live within a half mile of about 5 really good local shops with free wi-fi, along with the obligatory 2 Starbucks which I've never had to bother with.

I've lived in other places which weren't so lucky, but Panara was still available in those places too.

Re:Hooray? (4, Informative)

Zemran (3101) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388938)

any coffee shop worth spending any time in already has free wifi.

I am sitting in the coffee shop of the art gallery in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, using the free WiFi... Where is Starbucks? (O.K. we have got SB here but who needs it?). As you say, every decent coffee shop now has free WiFi...

Re:Hooray? (3, Funny)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 6 years ago | (#22390338)

I wish it was that easy here, the only place with free wifi, that'll be mcdonalds.
I just love the ambiance...

Re:Hooray? (1)

kithrup (778358) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388440)

It's not clear from TFA whether the card they are referring to is the gift card, or the Starbuck's-branded credit card. My money (pardon the pun) is on the latter.

Re:Hooray? (2, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388616)

TFA links here: https://www.starbucks.com/card/ [starbucks.com]

That's the pre-paid "gift" card, not the branded credit card. So unless Ars is confused (possible), wireless users may find themselves reloading their pre-paid cards on a regular basis. Meanwhile, Starbucks makes mucho-dinero on the "float" of the money.

FWIW, Starbucks often runs deals where you get a free bag of coffee beans if you load up your pre-paid card with $20. This is probably cheaper for them, and far more encouraging for their customers.

Re:Hooray? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22388592)

OK, but why wouldn't I go to any of the other coffee shops in my city? They offer better coffee, same-or-cheaper prices, and indefinite free wifi.

Anybody who knows the first thing about coffee or wifi will tell you that going to Starbucks at all is bad form. You're just paying more for the green logo. It's the Windows 95 of coffee shops: known for ubiquity, not low price or quality.

Re:Hooray? (5, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388628)

>Sure you can be a parasite at Panera without buying anything,

You might find the definition of parasite to be interesting when it comes to coffee shops.

I read a study (or perhaps a well written rant) about how places that offer unlimited wifi tend to do much, much worse than places that dont. Why? Because people will turn a table into their office and fill up all the seats, thus providing a big disincentive for people to actually go in there and drink coffee and buy a baked good.

I live in a major city and I can picture all the free-wifi places in my neighborhood and I absolutely hate them all. Theyre all packed with kids/students who are myspace addicts and your 9-5'er doing work. There are no free tables. And the best part is that these people are there ALL DAY and I'm sure barely spend 10 dollars, if that. In fact the big free wifi place here recently went out of business. I dont know how they stayed in business. You had 15 people there taking all the seats for hours and buying a 3 dollar product!

So it turns out that if you want to stay in business and sell coffee you need to not turn your shop into a laptop hangout. Even starbucks knows this. They can easily foot any bandwidth cost but they would know their shop would turn into a 'business center' in no time and that will hurt them badly in the end. Instead they want you to buy product and get the hell out. If you need wifi its there but you'll need to pay. Interesting that they are going with the starbucks card approach.

Interesting stuff. Panera suffers from this but your typical panera is much larger than your typical starbucks and all the noise doesnt make it conducive to getting things done like a coffeehouse does.

Re:Hooray? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22389144)

I live in Seattle. There are easily 2 dozen coffee shops within 10 blocks of my apartment, and every one of them except Starbucks has free wifi. The two best places (neither of them Starbucks, of course) have huge rooms of tables for laptop users. Sure, people come in from time to time and use the wifi without paying, but it's not that common.

Free wifi is a competitive advantage. For a while, my company (employee count at the time: 2) didn't even have an office, and simply worked from coffee shops. If you don't have free wifi, we're not going to hang around and drink your coffee all day -- it's not like you don't have competition.

I'm not alone here -- this sounds just like what Joel wrote about it in his book [joelonsoftware.com] :

That's a childish approach to strategy. It reminds me of independent booksellers, who said "why should I make it comfortable for people to read books in my store? I want them to buy the books!" And then one day Barnes and Nobles puts couches and cafes in the stores and practically begged people to read books in their store without buying them. Now you've got all these customers sitting in their stores for hours at a time, mittengrabben all the books with their filthy hands, and the probability that they find something they want to buy is linearly proportional to the amount of time they spend in the store, and even the dinkiest Barnes and Nobles superstore in Iowa City rakes in hundreds of dollars a minute while the independent booksellers are going out of business. Honey, Shakespeare and Company on Manhattan's Upper West Side did not close because Barnes and Nobles had cheaper prices, it closed because Barnes and Nobles had more human beings in the building.


The store with the best cup of coffee in Seattle also has a big room with free wifi. People don't go there for the wifi -- they go there for the coffee. It's just convenient that there's a good place to work. Maybe if you have ho-hum coffee like Starbucks you'd have problems with nonpaying customers. But for the shops offering a quality product, it's not a problem.

Imagine the nicest steakhouse in your city. Do they have a problem with people coming, getting a small side salad, and taking up a table for 2 hours? Not hardly -- but McDonald's might. If you have a quality product, you don't need to nickel-and-dime your customers to keep them paying or leaving.

Re:Hooray? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#22390016)

Imagine the nicest steakhouse in your city. Do they have a problem with people coming, getting a small side salad, and taking up a table for 2 hours?

Depends on how many customers they get. I regularly go to a pretty good and popular restaurant (fairly cheap too) and during peak times you'll have a hard time getting a free seat (not just table, during peak times all seats are taken and families will regularly split themselves across several tables), if someone took a table for two hours during those times that'd make all the people waiting for a seat pretty angry and would probably cause a few lost sales. Of course if that was during the off-times noone would care.

Re:Hooray? (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389426)

It all began with the death of table service. Was a time when the waiter would kindly ask people if they wanted another coffee or a snack at regular intervals.. if the customer refused, say, 3 times, the waiter would ask them to either order something or leave - this isn't a library.

But hey, that was back when your coffee didn't come in a paper cup.

Re:Hooray? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22389770)

That's more mentality in the restaurants in the United States.

In Europe (in Vienna specifically, famous for it's cafes) you could spend several hours reading a newspaper or talking with friends. In restaurants, you can talk with friends after the main dish. Maybe order a desert, maybe not. Probably order a drink. Since restaurants were historically one of the highest profit businesses -- this lounging mentality has never hurt them (obviously).

Its a culture shock in America, when you're done your meal, you practically barraged by your waiter to order a desert or a drink. Every 3-5 minutes. And if you don't -- they practically chase you out after 10 minutes. Pretty rude after eating a meal and you just want to relax. I had this happen to me in places that were 90% empty even - it's just ingrained in the serving staff -- two different cultures.

As for the wifi -- that's easy. The internet is not a social activity in the traditional sense that adds to the atmosphere around you -- you're zoning out onto your computer screen and become oblivious to everything and everyone around you. It's a social/antisocial activity at the same time and that is the clash between say, a cafe atmosphere and people browsing the net.

If worse went to worse, I would just have print up something like coasters that had a unique code printed on each to get another 10/15/30 minutes of surfing time. Want more surfing time? Order another drink. Simple, polite, and still treating the customer with respect. Either that or have no wifi and just a couple of pay-for internet kiosks. Same thing.

Re:Hooray? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389804)

Riight. Can you please give me a list of restaurants in the US where you've gotten this treatment? Because I often have to yell to get service like that. I especially hate the 10 to 15 minutes it often takes between me asking for the bill and them delivering it.. only to walk away before I can give them my credit card.. so I have to wait another 5 to 10 minutes.. then they take another 5 to 10 minutes to return the bill and then I get the joy of playing the "how much is 15% of that" game (which you have to add even if the meal and the service was terrible, otherwise you're a prick) and then, after I make my mark, I'm finally free to leave. Average time from asking for the bill and getting out of the freakin' restaurant? 20 minutes or so, but sometimes 30.

Re: Closing Out of Restaurants (2, Interesting)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 6 years ago | (#22390386)

Tip that has worked for me: Combine steps.

1. If you're a regular, order when the server first appears.
2. The moment they bring the order, ask for the bill.
3. While they're away, get your credit card in hand.
(You can now go back to your meal.)
4. When they arrive with the bill, snap the card down pronto.
(Continue with your meal.)
5. Your tip is $2 if your meal is up to $15.00, $3 if your meal is up to $22.
      *Your* time is worth more than agonizing over the calculation.
      If you didn't want to be spending up to $25 including tip on a meal,
      you would have never entered at all.

About the time you're done with your meal, this whole sidebar transaction is done.
The service provided for the $18 meal is usually the same as the $22 meal, so it justifies the same tip. Since you declined the need for extra service visits, you compensate for the couple points below the 15% mark on the $22 tip.

Re:Hooray? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22390528)

LOL on the credit card thing... same thing happens to me all the time. It mostly irritates me when I'm alone.

Just have it out when they bring the bill and don't even let them put the bill down.

They are assuming that you want to look over the bill... not a bad assumption if you've ever sat next to a table full of senior citizens.

Don't ever eat in Europe. The servers are apparently paid by the hour and not based on tips, so they sort of disappear when it's time to get your bill. I think you would sit there all night if you don't go chasing them down. And indeed, customers seem to WANT to sit there all night - all hail cultural differences. No wonder they feel "rushed out" in the US.

Re:Hooray? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22389528)

This is very much the case in Tokyo. The company that I work for is the largest WISP in Japan, yet very few people have heard of us. The reason is that there is no advertising at the hotspot locations. When the service first rolled out 6 years ago, there used to be little signs telling you that the service was provided at the shop (kind of like the ones T-Mobile has/had at Starbucks in the U.S.), but shops quickly discovered they had a problem with wireless users taking up seats for hours at end. As such, all the signs were removed. We still provide service at all of the same places (and I've witnessed first-hand how people "in the know" abuse it), but there is no advertising any more.

Free WiFi making inroads in Yurup (1)

Dobeln (853794) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389836)

I was pleasantly surprised to find Free WiFi making inroads into Europe - using my iPod Touch at my local Café, Skype and Aftonbladet (the major Swedish tabloid) offered free Wi-Fi. Let's hope it spreads.

Re:Hooray? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22390478)

Yup... I live in NYC - a pretty big city :) The free Wifi is now restricted to McDonalds, the new Juan Valdez chain, and a few holdouts. When you pay $20,000/month in rent for a 1000 sq ft store, you can't have people camping out with their laptops. DTUT just closed up shop on the Upper East Side, and the only other free Wifi shop just pulled the plug on their router. This will be very welcome in NYC, where Starbucks are located every 3 blocks and already serve as the public restrooms.

Too bad their coffee is burned-tasting. Not horrid if you go for cream and sugar, but a bit disappointing to us black-coffee drinkers. Still better than the "improved" brown cardboard water at McDonalds! :)

Re:Hooray? (1)

mtmra70 (964928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22390570)

My Panera has tons of people that use it to conduct meetings, hog tables, etc. Of course there is usually a line out the door for people ordering food, so they aren't exactly hurting either.

Re:Hooray? (1)

Falstius (963333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388828)

The other week I missed my bus so decided to take refuge from the cold in the Starbucks across the way, bought a coffee and tried play with my new internet tablet for half an hour. Turns out Starbucks doesn't have free wifi. I won't be going back. It is bad enough that the coffee is mediocre, but no wifi??

Re:Hooray? (2, Funny)

Divebus (860563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388174)

Of course! How else would you order a double shot half-caf skinny almond latte with your iPhone before you get there?

Re:Hooray? (3, Insightful)

tirerim (1108567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388184)

How do you get to that website when you don't have wireless access? Seriously, free wifi is great, but unless you plan carefully in advance, it's not always easy to find. Starbucks, on the other hand, is everywhere, so I'm glad that on the rare occasions that I'm willing to pay for wireless it will be cheaper. ($4 for two hours is about on the upper end of what I'm willing to pay; I still want to see a micropayments model, where I can buy 15 minutes for 50 cents. At that point, it would be worth it just to quickly check my email and look something up online.)

Re:Hooray? (1)

Arclight17 (812976) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388254)

Blackberry to find the wifi.
Coffee to refresh the brain.
Then computer to check email, look up article, send documents, or whatever...

wired at public library (2, Informative)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388472)

Wireless is a pain, as connection problems are more difficult to diagnose than they should be. Problems could be not getting a good signal, authorization information is bad, or someone's configuration (yours or theirs) is wrong, and it is sometimes difficult to tell which of those it is thanks to lousy feedback to the users.

Public libraries are everywhere, not too difficult to find, and pretty much all of them have computers connected to the Internet. No guilt trip either for not buying anything. Downsides are libraries often have weird hours thanks to budget difficulties (will open late or close early on random days of the week), and the computers tend to be in demand so that sometimes there's a wait, and of course being public computers you can't and wouldn't want to do stuff like make a VPN connection to your employer's network. But I'd rather visit a library for a bit of surfing or a check of my web mail than hunt around for a wireless connection that works. Motels are pretty poor at running wireless. Down half the time, misconfigured, poor coverage, intermittent signal, etc. And they don't know what to do about it when they have problems, just have to wait whatever expert they've contracted can fix things.

Re:wired at public library (1)

Basehart (633304) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388586)

Ever tried looking at porn on a Library PC?

Re:wired at public library (3, Funny)

JK_the_Slacker (1175625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388810)

Who told you?

I was young, I was stupid, and I was weak. It won't happen again.

Re:wired at public library (1)

Cardcaptor_RLH85 (891550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388736)

Where I live (Genesee County, Michigan), all of our county's District Libraries have free WiFi. Just bring a laptop (or other 802.11 b/g enabled device) and you're good. Also, while some of the branches have quite...interesting hours due to the budget concerns you mentioned, two locations (on in a local mall and the headquarters) are open for 6 and 7 days per week. All of this in an area that's not exactly known for being well-off economically. If our area can do it I certainly believe that areas with a larger (or higher income) tax base could definately do it.

Re:Hooray? (3, Insightful)

tony1343 (910042) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388212)

I agree, I go to a Panera. Actually, in the city I live in, the two closest Starbucks to me are both right next to a Panera. People sit in Starbucks and use Panera's WiFi. The one Starbucks is by a University. From within the Starbucks you can pick up multiple free WiFi signals. I do not understand how Starbucks can justify charging. Who actually pays for this? I will simply go somewhere where it is free (and there are multiple other coffee shops that have free WiFi in my city). I always thought this was because they were locked into a contract from before places started offering WiFi and they would eventually offer it for free. Turns out not; they're just idiots (at least in places where there are free signals available).

Re:Hooray? (2, Interesting)

metlin (258108) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388726)

To answer you, Starbucks is charging because making it free will only make more people flock there for the wrong reasons. Starbucks tries hard to be open yet picky about its customers (notice their prices, compared to say, McDonalds?). It's that fine balance.

And in most cities, Starbucks are usually too crowded - too many people loitering around for the wifi would only make it worse.

If you are really desperate, just buy an EVDO card from one of the providers, and you can have Internet wherever you want (well, almost). And if you are like me, on the road a lot, it is worth its weight in gold.

But (1)

Wolfier (94144) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389166)

Why not make it customer only for limited time and then you can buy more time?

I can understand the price being there to deal with the freeloaders, but when I buy something there, they used to give me 30 minutes of free Wifi (that was 4 years ago).

Now, customer or not they're charging.  Those who called the shot were boneheaded.

Re:Hooray? (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388416)

The only reason I go to starbucks (and unfortunately pay for the wireless) is that where i live they are the only 24 hour coffee shops and call me crazy but i get the most work done at a coffee shop late at night. In fact I get more done in about 3 hours (midnight to 3am or so) than i would if i was working in the office for 8 hours. I know its not everybody's cup of tee (coffee?), but hooray indeed from me if it means i'll be paying less than t-mobile overpriced service.

Re:Hooray? (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388880)

Oh how I wish to live where free wifi is common! Here, even if you visit a coffee shop its a paid for service, or with a 10mb cap...

sigh

Re:Hooray? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22389042)

"For who can denie but it is repugneth to nature, that the blind shall be appointed to leade and conduct such as do see? That the weake, the sicke and impotent persons shall norishe and kepe the hole and strong? And finallie, that the foolishe, madde and phrenetike shal governe the discrete and give counsel to such as be sober of mind. And such be al women, compared unto man in bearing of authoritie. For their sight in civile regiment is but blindness; their strength, weaknes; their counsel, foolishnes; and judgment, phrensie, if it be rightlie considered."

Re:Hooray? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22389048)

old news. panera pwnz u r00t

'bout bloody time (1)

keraneuology (760918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388150)

I'm not much of a coffee drinker, nor am I a starbucks wallflower. But from time to time there have been occasions when I liked to grab a nice cup of herbal tea and just chill in a comfy chair in a coffeeshop. Starbucks was never on the list because they are/were the only shop in town that didn't offer free wifi.

Re:'bout bloody time (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22388214)

nor am I a starbucks wallflower
I've got a collection of pressed Starbucks wallflowers preserved in a really big book. They still smell like coffee.

Re:'bout bloody time (3, Interesting)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388248)

T-Mobile has been running a free six-month Hotspot campaign for PSP users [pspfanboy.com] since mid-2007...still in effect thru end of March I believe.

Re:'bout bloody time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22388362)

Apparently you're not the only one [mcsweeneys.net] who felt strongly about this!

'bout bloody time-Free reading material. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22388420)

B&N has a coffee shop and of course reading material while you're there.

Re:'bout bloody time-Free reading material. (3, Insightful)

netringer (319831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388728)

What B&N doesn't have is any power outlets. I needed a place to get a few hours work done on the road. I have AT&T WiFi with my home DSL. The B&N was about the only place in town. I checked the whole store to see if there was a place to let me work. Not an outlet to be seen. They must use battery powered vacuum cleaners.

Pathetic geek story: I had a battery/invertor box in the car so I dragged in and used that to get me an extra hour to work. It was kinda bad when the battery ran low and started beeping.

At least Panera has outlets. I dunno about Starbucks. I never went for the T_Mobile deal.

Re:'bout bloody time-Free reading material. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22389380)

"Not an outlet to be seen. They must use battery powered vacuum cleaners."

Look around a retail store sometimes. See those round or square plates[PDF] [thorsman.com] in the floor? Remove one and the outlet's behind that. Only problem is it would look a bit obvious if you did it.

Re:'bout bloody time-Free reading material. (1)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#22390464)

Many places use specialized "vacuum" power connectors to avoid others leeching power. Next time you're there watch out for these circular three-prong looking contraptions.

Re:'bout bloody time (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388484)

I'm not much of a coffee drinker ...

LOL. Nor are most Starbucks patrons, it seems. Those folks in line are mostly ordering "drinks" which, from what I can gather, amount to a slice of chocolate cake thrown into a blender with some coffee, and served up with whip cream in a plastic cup and a straw. I guess drinking coffee out of a cup while using a fork to eat your desert is too fattening, or maybe just too old skool. ;-)

That said, I agree about the "comfy chair" environment. Whether you want to socialise, hit on babes using Thinkpads (I've seen them!), or just hang out, it's hard to beat. The fact that people are conducting actual business (interviews, meetings, etc.) in those same comfy chairs shouldn't surprise anybody.

As for the wireless thing, it's obviously a business decision to counteract the falling stock price and stave off competition from the bottom feeders like MacDonalds and donut stores, but it does translate into a nice perk for Starbucks patrons. I have ATT DSL, so I believe I have (or soon will have) free wireless [att.com] , but I've not bothered yet to check it out yet as I already have a comfy chair and espresso machine. If I do get free wireless, then I expect I'll be spending more time sitting among the "coffee drink" drinkers.

Cutting out the middleman (2, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388190)

Of course the NSA wants to offer WiFi at Starbucks. Dangerous radicals often meet at coffee shops.

And the So What Meter reads... (1)

ismism (947992) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388266)

...nada. Zip. Needle didn't even budge. Starbucks is nuckin futs to think they can still charge for what every half-rate cafe gives away these days. Oh yeah, they're the ones who also charge around 30% more than my local coffee place charges, and I'm more than happy to give the nice people there the difference and then some for a tip. Puh-lease.

Re:And the So What Meter reads... (1)

Mean Variance (913229) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388656)

Oh yeah, they're the ones who also charge around 30% more than my local coffee place charges, and I'm more than happy to give the nice people there the difference and then some for a tip.

Perhaps the devil's in the details, but I believe that little extra you might pay at Starbucks gets them health insurance, probably more of a bennie than a 50c tip. And as far as cost, the decent quality indie coffeehouses I frequented in the San Jose Bay Area - Coffee Society and Campbell Roasting - were as expensive, for the latter, or weirder/ruder in service, for the former.

Re:And the So What Meter reads... (1)

pgillan (1043668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389552)

Didn't Coffee Society end up buying Campbell Roasting a few years ago?

Well it was working... (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388952)

Make hay while the sun shines and all that. People daft enough to pay $4 for a coffee are prime candidates to sting for some wifi too!

it's all about the execution (3, Insightful)

abes (82351) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388320)

There was a cafe nearby my old school in NYC which I used for doing a large part of my thesis writing. They started off having free wi-fi, but I think got sick of the freeloading (lots of students in the area), and so switched to an hourly-ticket system. Unfortunately whoever implemented the system did a very bad job of it. The problems ranged from making the network really unstable to having to rely on a printer to get your ticket (it's on a frigg'n network .. make a renewal webpage!), to the amount of time allotted (1 hour is not nearly long enough -- especially if someone comes up and starts talking to you).

Which is not to say Starbucks will be doomed. Only that past experience with other systems (esp. counting every hotel and airport I've been to) has shown very few businesses know how to do these things right.

It is *really* nice they're doing away with the pay-system for already paying customers. The amount T-Mobile was charging for access was crazy, and in the end I suspect all Starbucks cares about is getting more people into their store over-paying for the coffee. I have the option of working in Cafes, only I require internet-access. Until now I've been to chea^H^H^H^H thrifty to pay the additional cost (especially since I'm already paying for it at home). I'm much more likely now to spend some quality time in their stores.

I used to work there.... (1)

russlar (1122455) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388342)

Currently with T-Mobile, they use Cisco 1700 series routers. Upgrading the hardware is a good call.

As simple as flipping a switch (2, Insightful)

joshv (13017) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388398)

"[The company plans] to install all new equipment at Starbucks as part of this agreement, so the changeover won't be as simple as flipping a switch."

No, it will be as simple as shipping out a new wi-fi hub and walking a barista through plugging it in and registering it over the phone.

Re:As simple as flipping a switch (2, Informative)

russlar (1122455) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388422)

Speaking as a former barista, they don't know shit about the wi/fi, and are guided by strongly worded policies not to touch the equipment under any circumstances. Baristas are not usually technically inclined, at least in Boston/Cambridge. This will be done by AT&T techs.

Re:As simple as flipping a switch (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22388698)

As a current barista, I can vouch for what this person say is correct.

At the 3 locations I have worked, 2 have had the T-mobile wifi. They usually park the equipment 2/3's up on a 7 foot server mount with signs like "Property of T-mobile" and "Do not touch without permission from T-Mobile". The smartjack is usually 7+ foot high bolted on the wall, or at least it was at both of my stores.

I, however, know the T-mobile data plan rates, and warn customers... Well, I warn our regulars. They're our bread and butter ;)

You're missing the real story... (5, Funny)

ntimid8 (980393) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388404)

The main reason for the switch is that virtually every executive at their Seattle headquarters wants or already has an iPhone and they want the corporate discount.

Re:You're missing the real story... (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388970)

Am I the only one that thought T-Mobile's wifi was a pain in the wallet? They were trying to do with wifi what all cell co.s did for SMS.

Great news.. (3, Interesting)

GiMP (10923) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388442)

I work from "home" and often head out for a change of venue. I normally go to Barnes & Noble because they have AT&T Wifi which has partnered with Boingo. The nice thing about Boingo is that it is only $20/mo, month-to-month. Both AT&T or TMobile are about $40/mo, month-to-month. Unfortunately, I still ended up paying some nasty fees to TMobile for the few times I've chosen to, or had to work from Starbucks. Now, I'll be able to use both, and thats a great thing, as where I am there isn't a whole lot of other choice. With a typical month including over 40 hours of coffee-shop patronage, a change of venue is much appreciated.

For the 'just use free hotspots' crowd, my area generally has no coffee shops other than at Barnes & Noble and Starbucks. Both charge for their Wifi. We also have Burger Kings and Panara Bread with free internet. Unfortunately my area Burger King's don't have open power outlets and smell like burgers; Panara Bread requests that patrons limit their sessions to 30-minutes, and at least where I am, have had sub-par connectivity.

Ties in very nicely for AT&T DSL customers (4, Interesting)

Fencepost (107992) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388446)

For quite a while AT&T has offered access to their network to their DSL customers for $2.99/month, but recently they announced that they were dropping that to "free for our DSL customers." So, in addition to McD's, Barnes & Noble and some other locations, you can now get effectively free access at Starbucks as well.

Handy, that.

If I was still paying $20/month to T-Mobile this'd sure be the end of it. What's left in their network besides Borders bookstores?

Re:Ties in very nicely for AT&T DSL customers (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388480)

My company just got a ton of BB 8820's with WiFi, I wonder if our unlimited data plan is going to include use of the hotspots now...

Re:Ties in very nicely for AT&T DSL customers (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389010)

If I was still paying $20/month to T-Mobile this'd sure be the end of it. What's left in their network besides Borders bookstores?

Airports, hotels and Kinkos.

Re:Ties in very nicely for AT&T DSL customers (1)

ccoder (468480) | more than 6 years ago | (#22390594)

I was in a borders on Saturday 2/9/08 (sitting in the Starbucks section) in Macon, GA and paying the $2.99 for 2hr fee to AT&T. They got rid of T-Mobile already.

Headline is completely wrong (4, Informative)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388516)

According to TechDirt [techdirt.com] at least. Seems they're just going to allow a choice, rather than replace T-Mobile with AT&T. But why let the facts get in the way of a good headline...

Re:Headline is completely wrong (3, Interesting)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389094)

The headline is essentially accurate. T-Mobile and AT&T have made an agreement to allow T-Mobile users to continue connecting at Starbucks. They are being "grandfathered in," so to speak. Thus, T-Mobile users don't get hosed, but it still remains the case that Starbucks is no longer working with T-Mobile.

I'm a subscriber to a pretty substantial package of T-Mobile services. I have been happy with their service offerings, and their customer service has been outstanding. I can't help but wonder, though, as they fail to get the iPhone and start losing valuable partnerships like Starbucks, whether the benefits of their excellent service will start to mean less if they don't provide offerings with major partners like Apple. When these kind of alliances create unique opportunities, it is a path to monopoly - think Microsoft.

Re:Headline is completely right (4, Informative)

node 3 (115640) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389128)

No, TechDirt is absolutely wrong.

From Starbucks [starbucks.com] :
In recognition of the many T-Mobile customers who enjoy visiting Starbucks, the Company is also announcing that T-Mobile HotSpot customers will be able to continue to access Wi-Fi services at no additional cost, through an agreement between AT&T and T-Mobile.

T-Mobile's hardware and network are being removed, and AT&T's are being installed. What's happened is AT&T and T-Mobile have a deal (probably at Starbucks' behest) to allow T-Mobile customers to access the AT&T hotspots in Starbucks.

But why let the facts get in the way of a good headline...
Indeed...

I visited starbucks (2, Informative)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388554)

here in Sydney, I cant believe you guys call that crap coffee.

Re:I visited starbucks (1)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388622)

Depends how you say it. In Australia we get good tasting "Coffee". However in America their "Cawfee" taste like a goat lactated in a cup full of mechanical oil.

Re:I visited starbucks (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389076)

Even for people in that part of the northeast, that's a fairly uncommon accent (cawfee).

Re:I visited starbucks (0, Offtopic)

mjwx (966435) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389250)

Actually as an Australian I notice that it is actually a common accent for USians. USians don't notice it because they are exposed to it constantly. I don't think I have an Australian accent but when I go overseas I notice that my Australian accent really begins to come out.

Re:I visited starbucks (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389276)

wait, wait, are we talking "kawe-fee" or "Ca-fee" (long A)? kawe-fee is specific to parts of NYC and boston, which make up a very small percent of the US, but very large percent of US sitcoms

Re:I visited starbucks (1)

fyrewulff (702920) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389766)

1) Americans, not USians. you AUSian.

2) Fast food coffee is completely different to what people make at home. Do you want it fast, or do you want it to taste good? Either way I drown it in creamer.

Re:I visited starbucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22388956)

I hate coffee.

That aside, just because a place is cookie-cutter doesn't mean the product will still taste the same. For example, I remember that for the longest time there was a huge difference between a McDonalds in London and a McDonalds in New York.

Terry Prattchet goes into this a bit in "Good Omens" sort of. In "Good Omens" he says the difference is that in the UK they take away the speed in which it is served and how hot it is. Having eaten at the 'same' resturant in different places, it's possible that the people in Sydney just suck at making coffee.

Captcha Crochet.

Of course, people don't go to Starbucks for coffee. They go there for milkshakes with coffee in it.

Freaking wierdos.

Re:I visited starbucks (3, Informative)

tuomoks (246421) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389296)

Here in Seattle - come and smell the real coffee. But don't go to Starbucks, any corner has a better coffee shop and real cups. And who drinks coffee out of paper or plastic mug anyway?? This city is full of free wifi places, not much reason to pay. Maybe not as good as S.F. but getting there.

Re:I visited starbucks (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389684)

Here in the UK, if I've ever been to a Starbucks it's because the missus and I are out shopping of a weekend and she seems to like their coffee.

I must admit that the coffee served in Starbucks and other chain coffee outlets is distinctly "average" and highly overpriced. The problem seems to be that these places are run by teenage kids who are just interested in churning out as much of the stuff as possible rather than delivering coffee drinks of any quality - bearing in mind we pay £2.50 (approx. $5 US) for a Starbucks coffee here, about 20% of the time I end up taking my (simple to make) Americano back to the counter because it tastes awful and for that kind of money, I'm not prepared to just sit and take it.

We also go out to Spain a lot and I have never yet had a bad cup of coffee out there. Unlike UK coffee shops, the ones in Spain seem to be run by proper "barristas" who know how to use and maintain their coffee machine. Out there you'll pay 1.20 (approx $1.50) for a coffee at the most.

The coffee shop chains are a rip-off - let's face it, how else could Starbucks have two shops within 2 minutes walk of each other in an average-sized town centre like mine.

In the "So What" School here (4, Interesting)

rijrunner (263757) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388594)


Honestly, I was not even aware that there were still wifi coffee shops that you had to pay for internet access. Is that a Bay Area thing? In the Fort Collins CO area, most coffee shops I have been around have free wifi with no time limits.

Seriously.. small shops have been doing this for years. DSL is down in the $20/month range and a wireless router is cheap. I suspect that the administrative overhead of managing a system like this one for Starbucks is not really worth the effort. Starbucks may have made their money on the T-Mobile deal, but I doubt it. IIRC, it was a $500 mill contract. And, a quick websearch shows a series of price cuts.

Here's one from 2003:

http://www.wi-fiplanet.com/news/article.php/1855971 [wi-fiplanet.com]

"In the original story regarding the price drop, Starbucks New Ventures Director Lovina McMurchy is quoted as saying that even the busiest Starbucks shops get about 20 Wi-Fi devices on the network per day. While T-Mobile doesn't release cost information for providing the hotspot, the revenue generated from so few customers is probably not enough to cover costs of a high speed line -- the T-Mobile Hotspots are served by costly T1 lines -- and the revenue sharing between T-Mobile, Starbucks, and HP, which provides some software for the services."

http://www.lockergnome.com/mobile/2006/03/09/t-mobile-answers-the-cries-of-starbucks-owners/ [lockergnome.com]

"All the mom-and-pop coffee shops offer free Wi-Fi. In fact, most everyone does except Starbucks. The Seattle-based coffee house gets its hotspot piped in by T-Mobile. It's been reported for years that store managers at Starbucks has been complaining to upper management for a while about losing business because customers don't want to pay for their Internet after forking out $4 on a foo-foo drink."

Here's my favorite:

http://www.forbes.com/2007/02/23/fonbucks-wifi-starbucks-ent_cx_mc_0226fonbucks.html [forbes.com]

"FON, a community WiFi provider headquartered in Madrid, Spain, is offering wireless Internet access to Starbucks' latte-sipping surfers for just $2 a day--versus the $10 users pay to sign onto the 5,100 T-Mobile hotspots at U.S. Starbucks (nasdaq: SBUX - news - people ).

Just how does FON plan to steal away Starbucks Internet users? By offering FON wireless routers, also known as "La Foneras," free to anyone who lives above or next to a Starbucks. The routers, which usually cost $40, split an Internet broadband connection into two wireless signals--one for personal Internet use and the second for public use, which can be accessed by anyone within range for $2 per day. The routers' owners get to pocket half of the sign-on fee, and FON takes home the rest."

Re:In the "So What" School here (1)

flynnternet (787795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389212)

Ahh, another FtFun geek.

Gotta love this town! (The Town Pump rules.)

Although it snows all the time, so you do not want to move here...

Peace!

Bring on the freaking bums and bandwidth hogs (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22388596)

As a paying T-Mobile customer, I don't see this as any kind of a positive change for Starbucks. I never even think about going to Starbucks anymore because there's never any place to sit, with all of the leechers and freeloaders plugging up their laptops into the free electrical outlets and taking up permanent residence. All I want is to buy a Frappuccino and relax for a few minutes. With my T-Mobile account I can get a good wi-fi signal anywhere I go, so I've never had any great need to park my ass inside a Starbucks so I could check my email.

Encouraging the loafers is going to make Starbucks even less appealing for those of us who actually want to sit down and drink coffee. And maybe I'm just getting old, but I've never drug my laptop out to Starbucks because I think it's just this side of insanity to whip out a machine I paid two grand for, show it off to the world, and then get back on the subway a couple of hours later, making me a perfect target for muggers and thieves.

Re:Bring on the freaking bums and bandwidth hogs (1)

FunkSoulBrother (140893) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389248)

Some of us live in the goddamn suburbs, where walking from a Starbucks to your car is really not frightening, even with a $2000 laptop.

Panera (2, Interesting)

dekkerdreyer (1007957) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388600)

Try Panera. Their Wi-Fi is free, remarkably uncluttered for the amount of people in there using it, and the food is significantly better than StarBucks (and the coffee is cheaper).

Re:Panera (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388688)

thanks for the tip. If I could only get three of them to open up on any given street corner in my neighborhood I'd be glad to switch.

Re:Panera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22389842)

>amount of people

Try "number of people": http://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/318060 [writing.com]

HTH. HAND.

And I work at a Starbucks... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22388652)

I work at a Starbucks, and have for 4 or so years. It's a great job, provides insurance for us on the treadmill of bachelors/masters programs when the school insurance plain stinks. We get lots of benefits, and a lot of latitude in how we do our job (make people happy above all else).

Now, when it comes to that occasional "I need to check my email" or what have you, the T-mobile price and 'service' is just disgusting. 10$ a day, or 30$ a month?! Yeah, it's that bad. It's not like they have any choices here, do they? Well, yes, they do. All our Subways offer free wifi, as does a popular pizza chain, as does ALL the hotels in our area, as does other coffee shops, as does even the bar.

Yeah, Starbucks is premium and all, and I can understand that. However, what seems simple is to print off the WEP key on a receipt so paying customers have free access. Our server could be easily tied into that kind of setup, in that it would provide no impact on us partners: we see this kind of integration in the drive thru stores, along with the "Bean Screens", and some stores the sticker machines.

And I wouldn't see customers get disgruntled over paying 2$ for a cup of coffee then immediately going to Subway for their email.. We simply don't have the complete package that other coffee houses do.

How does it affect WiFi @Home (T-Mobile) customers (2, Interesting)

fuocoZERO (1008261) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388672)

I currently subscribe to T-Mobile's WiFi@Home feature so that I can place calls on my BlackBerry through WiFi. One of the coolest features was being able to place those calls from Starbucks for no additional charge. I wonder if there will still be some type of deal between AT&T and T-Mobile to allow that feature to continue.

Re:How does it affect WiFi @Home (T-Mobile) custom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22388996)

TFA says yes. An agreement between AT&T and T-Mobile was made for this very purpose.

Re:this FP for GNAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22389080)

Lucky fuckin nigger. YOu got into GNAA. GNAA won't even let me join. And i've made several good first posts.

Apple Connection (1)

ThatsNotFunny (775189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388816)

Apple allows people to leach bandwidth at Starbucks for iTunes purchases.... Apple partnered with AT&T for their iPhone... Starbucks is now using AT&T as their wi-fi provider... hmm.... quite an interesting circle of coincidence!

latte from your iphone (1)

knowledge651 (1237744) | more than 6 years ago | (#22388836)

the only reason they did this is to gear up for the iPhone starbucks app where you will be able to order your coffee from your iphone for pickup. and it'll just charge to your phone plan. going to get interesting real soon.

Its about time! (1)

mikeinwa (1237758) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389006)

As others have said... it couldn't come soon enough. TMobile prices were outrageous when you only needed a couple minutes. 2 Free hours is maybe even too much, but still not bad. Nice work for once, Starbucks!

Doesn't anyone pay attention? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22389022)

They aren't dropping T-Mobile, they've just opened up the network to AT&T customers. Additionally, AT&T wifi hotspots will now be available to T-mobile Hotspot-at-home subscribers. This is really just an effort to open up the networks to benefit both companies; somehow the blog-o-sphere managed to spin it "Starbucks dumps T-mobile."

But yeah, as mentioned above, don't let the facts ruin the story.

not free? it is where I am (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389140)

Every Starbucks I've been to in the last 5 years or so, has had free wifi - except one, and I think that was because it was in an area covered by a commercial wifi service (but I'm not sure).

Starbucks with the what now? (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389492)

Hang on, I thought Starbucks was just another coffee shop. What do they have to do with T-Mobile, T-Rex or news for nerds for that matter?

Mmmm for that (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#22389526)

Starbucks, double latte, iPhone lifestyle...

 

tubgiRl (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22389794)

New T1's for every store (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 6 years ago | (#22390304)

This means a new T1 for every store, as a T-Mobile provided T1 was part of the original deal.

That means a lot of work for AT&T installers, and will take a while.
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