Print 18 comment(s) - last by ZachDontScare.. on Oct 31 at 2:25 PM

Apple has a new scheme to "hack-proof" itself partner's special Wi-Fi connection

Apple's iPhone is the cell phone market's hottest purchase -- and Starbucks is the coffee business's hottest cup of Joe.  So it seems a natural union that these two wildly successful companies, which largely target the same market segment, should develop a partnership.  Sure enough a partnership was announced last September.

The deal offered free Wi-Fi to iPhone users, as well as occasional special free iTunes song downloads.  The Wi-Fi provided allowed customers to download songs and surf the air faster (until the iPhone 3G, Wi-Fi was the only way you could connect to iTunes as there was no over-the-air downloads).  Despite a lawsuit from a jealous T-Mobile, who had been Starbucks former partner, the new offering was highly anticipated.

Unfortunately, the service was sporadically deployed and due to a hack pulled altogether.  In May, users discovered that changing their browser's user agent to Mobile Safari earned them free Wi-Fi.  Needless to say, the widely publicized hack was short-lived, and once again iPhone was without free Starbucks Wi-Fi.

Then they were offered in July briefly, only to be pulled yet again.

Well now, at last, iPhone owners can stop spilling tears of sadness in their lattes, for free internet hath returned.  For iPhone users, you must select the "attwifi" network, when at one of Starbuck's thousands of locations or other AT&T hotspots.  You then enter your phone number in the box that comes up in your browser.  It will then send a SMS to your phone with an activation link, which you can click to begin free browsing.

Its seems like it’s only a matter of time before the clever hackers and exploiters find a way to circumvent this latest mechanism -- but for now iPhone owners can let the good times roll.

According to AT&T's website it also has hotspots at "Airports, Hotels, Universities, Convention Centers, Sports Centers, Restaurants, Bookstores, and Supermarkets".  So keep your eyes peeled for that "attwifi" network at these types of places.

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Free Wi-Fi?
By acer905 on 10/30/2008 12:18:22 PM , Rating: 5
The coffee shop i go to offers free Wi-Fi to... everyone...

RE: Free Wi-Fi?
By Neodude007 on 10/30/2008 12:46:21 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't even know I could have free StarBucks wifi on my iPhone until ATT sent a mass text to all iphone last night...

RE: Free Wi-Fi?
By iFX on 10/30/2008 1:18:41 PM , Rating: 3
So does mine, what a novel concept!! :)

I don't shop at $tarbuck$ anyway; I don't like getting ripped off.

RE: Free Wi-Fi?
By ZachDontScare on 10/31/2008 2:25:53 PM , Rating: 2
The coffee shop i go to offers free Wi-Fi to... everyone...

Thats what I find rediculous about starbucks. Every coffee place, other than starbucks, offers free wifi to everyone. Heck, all the McDonalds in my area also offer free wifi. Why cant starbucks manage it? I know they are getting paid by their 'partners', but is that really worth all this hassle they seem to keep going through with their wifi providers?

No More Tears?
By Denigrate on 10/30/2008 11:57:06 AM , Rating: 5
Come on, that deserves a shot of Ozzy circa 1991, not a picture of coffee/pastry.

RE: No More Tears?
By 306maxi on 10/30/2008 2:54:32 PM , Rating: 3
I've always thought that they should use that song in an advertisement for Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo and have Ozzy washing a baby's hair or something.

By CSMR on 10/30/2008 3:08:40 PM , Rating: 3
Highly anti-competitive behaviour on the part of Starbucks. If you offer a service to users of one phone you should offer the same service to users of any other phone at the same price. That's how the competitive economy works - by prices, not by colluding to form exclusive markets.

RE: Anticompetitive
By Zirconium on 10/30/2008 3:15:21 PM , Rating: 3
I don't think that's the case. I don't know all the ins-and-outs of the deal, but I get the impression that AT&T is paying Starbucks to let its iPhone users access the wireless for free.

RE: Anticompetitive
By robinthakur on 10/31/2008 6:12:49 AM , Rating: 2
No not really, its an incentive for people to buy an iPhone. ATT obviously offered enough to Starbucks to make them forget about offering the service to everyone, and at the end of the day its their decision. It does make sense as they both target the same demographic anyway as the article said. Maybe you can get JC Pennies or Walmart to give free Wifi for the Android phone...O2 have a similar arrangement in the UK (called The Cloud)where when you join the wifi network, you validate your iPhone number then you get free auto access wherever the wifi network is (mostly across the whole of the London metropolitan areas.

By raphd on 10/30/2008 1:45:51 PM , Rating: 5
yes! send all the doucebags to one location!

You have got to be kidding me right?
By othercents on 10/30/2008 12:26:38 PM , Rating: 2
It will then send a SMS to your phone with an activation link, which you can click to begin free browsing

That was the solution that they came up with? Really, so if you own an iPhone all you have to do is copy that activation link from the iPhone SMS onto your computer and you get free access?


By mpjesse on 10/30/2008 12:51:37 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt AT&T and Starbucks really care how you're accessing their WiFi, so long as you have an iPhone. The original hack (or workaround) could be done by anyone with a MacBook, iPhone user or not.

Perhaps I will give it a go today... I have an iPhone and a MacBook. However, I suspect it's more complicated than that.

By TO on 10/30/2008 1:34:26 PM , Rating: 2
Okay, so I discovered that activation registers your iphone's mac address on the starbuck's network. So if you want free access on your laptop simply clone the mac address of your iphone onto your laptop and now you have free wifi. If you don't have an iphone, there's some mac address discovery hacking tools out there. The times it takes to drink a coffee and eat 2 cookies should be sufficient time to obtain an authorized mac address... Enjoy!

RE: Hack
By mpjesse on 10/31/2008 11:48:28 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah I tried copying the link from my iphone to my macbook's browser and didn't work. Like you said, the website probably copies your mac addy. But I'm not sure cloning your mac address is worth the hassle for a number of reasons. I don't know about ya'll, but I use mac address filtering in addition to WPA on my router. If I'm continually changing my MAC address I have to continually update my router (a bit of a hassle).

Also, I ran some speed tests on Starbucks' WiFi networks; they're all around 1.5mbps. I consistently get about 1.2mbps on AT&T's 3G network in Albuquerque. And with tethering supposedly on the way for the iPhone, I just don't see the value of free WiFi. I'd much rather just use the 3G network, which is a testament to AT&T. They've done a LOT of upgrading around here in recent months.

The only way it might prove useful is if i'm in an area that only has EDGE. But that's rare for me.

By austinag on 10/30/2008 12:52:18 PM , Rating: 2
So what your saying is Starbucks will be more crowded.

not a hippie
By headbox on 10/30/08, Rating: -1
RE: not a hippie
By chmilz on 10/30/2008 2:00:32 PM , Rating: 3
coffee shops? I go to the gym.

Superiority complex much? Feeling inferior and need to compensate? Way to stereotype everyone that enjoys coffee-shop products or the coffee-shop environment. I enjoy both the gym AND coffee, even the occasional Starbucks, as do many others.

RE: not a hippie
By StevoLincolnite on 10/31/2008 2:11:34 AM , Rating: 2
Coffee is also good for you with all those anti-oxidants doing there work.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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