Popular coffeehouse chain Starbucks has ditched T-Mobile for AT&T after a six year partnership of offering Wi-Fi Internet. In the United States alone, there are 8,891 T-Mobile Hot Spots like the ones found inside Starbucks coffeehouses. Once AT&T takes over all of those locations, the number of Hot Spots will decrease significantly. This major switchover will start at the beginning of this Spring and they hope to be finished with it before the end of the year.
So what will happen to T-Mobile now that one of their biggest partners is leaving? It’s not that Starbucks locations were the only places where you could find a hot spot, but they certainly made up a good chunk of them. Other big partners for them include Borders bookstores and Airports, but will they be inclined to switch to AT&T now that Starbucks has announced that they are leaving T-Mobile behind? They might, especially with the deal that AT&T and Starbucks have come up with for their customers.
Under the deal, AT&T broadband subscribers will be able to have free access to the Wi-Fi networks at Starbucks locations. Starbucks cardholders also benefit. The announcement says:
Beginning this spring, Starbucks Card holders can enjoy up to two hours of free Wi-Fi service per day at Starbucks locations offering Wi-Fi access, while more than 12 million qualifying AT&T broadband and AT&T U-verseSM Internet customers will have unlimited free access to the Wi-Fi service. In addition, more than 5 million of AT&T’s remote access services business customers will be able to access Wi-Fi service at Starbucks locations. AT&T will soon extend the benefits of Wi-Fi at Starbucks to its wireless customers.
Notice the last line? I don’t know what they exactly mean by “Wireless” but it could mean that all of those iPhone and Smartphone users will soon have the benefit of free Wi-Fi at Starbucks as well. There was no mention of when those benefits would be extended to their wireless customers, but I imagine it’ll be within the year. Those who want to just pay for their usage will have to either pay $3.99 for two hours or $19.99 for unlimited Wi-Fi per month.
Starbucks was also kind enough not to leave their T-Mobile customers out in the cold. In a separate press release they say that “In recognition of the many T-Mobile customers who enjoy visiting Starbucks, the Company is also announcing that T-Mobile HotSpot customers will be able to continue to access Wi-Fi services at no additional cost, through an agreement between AT&T and T-Mobile.”