Starbucks dumps T-Mobile, makes Wi-Fi free (sort of)

— 5:07 PM on February 11, 2008

Good news for folks who often hit Starbucks for their Wi-Fi Internet access needs. ComputerWorld reports that the coffee shop chain has left the embrace of German telecom giant T-Mobile for that of its U.S. rival AT&T. As part of the move, which will change Wi-Fi service at 7,000 of Starbuck's locations throughout the United States, Wi-Fi access has become free for customers that have Starbucks cards.

Those customers can stay online for up to two hours without having to pay connection fees, ComputerWorld says, although they'll have to pay up for longer connection times. No such service is offered to outsiders, who will have to pay $3.99 for those two hours of connection time. Of course, outsiders who already cough up the $19.99 a month for AT&T's regular Wi-Fi service, which gives access to all AT&T Wi-FI hot spots, obviously won't need to pay extra to get online at Starbucks.

The same ought to apply to AT&T broadband subscribers, as the company announced last month that users of its broadband services with speeds of 1.5Mbps and up would be given free access to its its 10,000 Wi-Fi hot spots across the country.

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