updated 11:16 am EDT, Wed July 31, 2013
Change in Starbucks Wi-Fi provider to take place over next 18 months
Google has made an agreement with Starbucks to provide the coffee house chain free Wi-Fi throughout the United States. The deal, which will apply to all 7,000 branches, will allow customers to access the Internet through their tablet, notebook, or smartphone through the new connection, which is claimed to be up to ten times faster than previously available in-store.
Currently, Starbucks offers free Wi-Fi through AT&T, and aims to replace all of the connections in stores over the next 18 months. Stores in Google Fiber areas are likely to be in the first wave of upgrades, starting in August, and will apparently provide 100-times faster connections than at present.
"Google has long invested in helping the Internet grow stronger, including projects to make Internet access speedier, more affordable, and more widely available," wrote Kevin Lo, general manager for Google Access, on the company blog, continuing "The free Internet connection at Starbucks has become an important part of many communities over the years, such as in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, or for students without Internet at home who do their homework at Starbucks."
It is unclear why Starbucks has made an agreement with Google for providing free Wi-Fi to its customers, as CNet reports that AT&T also offered similar connection speeds to Google in its own proposal. The carrier states it will continue to provide services to the coffee chain, stating "Starbucks continues to be an important partner for us."
Moving to Google for Wi-Fi is only one of a number of technology-related changes that Starbucks has made this year. The company recently rolled out wireless charging stations in a number of its Silicon Valley stores after a successful test in Boston, and started to accept in-store payments using Square in January.