Starbucks to Partner with Google for Wi-Fi Service

Posted by at 9:43 am on July 31, 2013

Starbucks WiFi GoogleStarbucks customers soon will be able to log onto the Web quicker than they can order a venti vanilla latte. The eatery is ditching its current AT&T Wi-Fi setup for a partnership with Google. An 18-month rollout will begin in August, with all 7,000 company-operated U.S. Starbucks stores on track to get free Google wireless access.

Starbucks and Google are partnering with Level 3 Communications for the effort. The telecom company will upgrade existing wireless devices and manage in-store connectivity across the country. Once the new system is in place, customers will be able to surf the Web at speeds up to 10 times faster than before, Google Access general manager Kevin Lo promised. Those in a Google Fiber city will get connected up to 100 times faster, he said.

“Every day, our customers rely on the free Wi-Fi at Starbucks to study, work, connect with friends or just relax,” Starbucks chief digital officer Adam Brotman said in a statement. “We want to make sure that they can access the Web effortlessly and quickly, no matter what they’re doing, or what device they are using.”

Starbucks currently relies on AT&T to provide customers with wireless access on their laptop computers, smartphones, or tablets. The coffeehouse chain did not reveal its reason for the change.

When asked for comment, AT&T sidestepped, telling PCMag that “Starbucks continues to be an important customer for us and we continue to provide them with a variety of services over AT&T’s advanced networks, including the nation’s fastest, most reliable 4G LTE network.”

Meanwhile, Google talked up its track record of working with the community, like in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy or for students without home Internet access.

“Google has long invested in helping the Internet grow stronger, including projects to make Internet access speedier, more affordable, and more widely available,” Google’s Lo said in a blog post.

In addition to providing faster Wi-Fi, Starbucks and Google will work together to also develop the next-generation Starbucks Digital Network.

“Our goal is to continue to provide our customers with the best in-store experience possible, and we are excited to offer these kinds of unparalleled experiences at a broad scale,” Brotman said.

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