Starting July 1st, Starbucks will offer free Wi-Fi nationwide, with no registration or account required. Even better, Wi-Fi will not be time limited.
Starbucks joins an increasing list of brands and chains to offer free Wi-Fi in its stores. For example, last December, McDonalds rolled out free Wi-Fi to nearly all of its restaurants across the country. Panera Bread also offers a similar program.
McDonald’s and Starbucks both have partnerships with AT&T, which, while often criticized for the quality of its wireless data network, is one of the largest Wi-Fi hotspot providers in the United States.
Starbucks was one of the first chains to offer Wi-Fi access to its patrons, first via an agreement with T-Mobile and then with AT&T. Starbucks visitors have been able to enjoy up to two hours of free Wi-Fi from their favorite coffee house, provided they are either an AT&T customer or they use a Starbucks Card to login. The new program will do away with any sort of registration, which will make those of us who always forget either our AT&T account information or can’t find our Starbucks cards extremely happy.
In addition to the new free Wi-Fi program, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told Wired’s Chris Anderson that the company is also planning on rolling out a new Starbucks Digital Network in partnership with Yahoo later this fall. This network, which will only be accessible in U.S. company-operated stores, will offers customers free and unrestricted access to paid sites and services like WSJ.com and other content providers on their phones, tablets or laptops. (Thanks for the tip Don)