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Starbucks gets a new partner for customer WiFi access

Coffee means big business here in the United States. Starbucks grew from its humble roots in the Northwest to a point now where you can find at least a few within a 5 mile radius in any major U.S. city. Fast food chain McDonalds has even gotten in on the act to cash in on the success of “premium” coffee.

In an attempt to provide a better "in store experience" for its customers and to distance itself from a growing McDonalds threat, Starbucks today announced a new strategic alliance to provide WiFi service to customers. Beginning in the spring of 2008, 7,000+ Starbucks stores in the U.S. will switch from T-Mobile WiFi access to AT&T.

“As we continue to build our technology offerings in ways that both enhance and expand the Starbucks Experience for our customers, we made a strategic decision to expand our existing relationship with our longtime technology partner AT&T to include consumer Wi-Fi,” said Starbucks CTO Chris Bruzzo.

Starbucks notes that its customers that wish to continue using T-Mobile Hotspot access will be able to do so seamlessly thanks to an agreement between AT&T and T-Mobile.

According to the company, Starbucks cardholders will be allotted two hours of free WiFi access per day at Starbucks stores. As reported by DailyTech in late January, existing AT&T broadband and AT&T U-verse customers will have access to free WiFi at any time.

“This is what our customers have been waiting for — free Starbucks-quality Wi-Fi,” Bruzzo continued. “Through our new partnership with AT&T, we also welcome their millions of current customers who can now come in and enjoy free Wi-Fi as part of their daily Starbucks Experience.”

Customers without a Starbucks card or an AT&T broadband account will pay $3.99 for two hours of service or $19.99 for a month's worth of surfing.

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RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By bhieb on 2/11/2008 1:50:41 PM , Rating: 2
Yes for real

Keep in mind taste is very subjective, and a bunch of people have been drinking MD coffee for years. Things that taste "normal" will usually be considered "better" than new foods. Therefore the person who stops by MD every morning for breakfast, and also gets coffee, will think it tastes better just because it is familiar. Starbucks has changed that a little with it's "try something new" attitude, and the image that people get from that. But at the end of the day MD coffee is really pretty good, and a better value.

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By omnicronx on 2/11/2008 1:58:47 PM , Rating: 2
From what i get here, they were not serving regular mcdees coffee. They were testing their new premium coffee's that would compete directly with Starbucks. I really doubt Macdonald's is going to go after Starbucks with their run of the mill coffee that they have been using for the past 50 years.

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By Oregonian2 on 2/11/2008 2:21:26 PM , Rating: 2
From what I've heard they're not. McDonald's has gone upscale with coffee, complete with Barista's and the whole shebang. Haven't tried it myself (I'm someone who has roasted my own green coffee beans bought from a wholesaler) but I've talked to some who have and they report that it's very good. But then to me Starbucks coffee is only "better than average".

Environment at a Starbucks is probably better than McDonald's though, and that's a big portion of Starbuck's success.

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