Starbucks said it will begin offering Wi-Fi access in its 7,000 stores via AT&T ending a long relationship with T-Mobile. Under another pact, subscribers to T-Mobile will still have access to AT&T's network.
Today Starbucks customers need a paid account to T-Mobile to get WiFi access. Starting in the spring, Starbucks will use AT&T for access in a deal that gives customers two free hours of access a day with subscription services after that. T-Mobile subscribers will still get access under a deal with AT&T.
The AT&T deal with Starbucks (Techmeme and statement) has a lot of subtext. Among the notable items:
- AT&T is looking to gain more customers. AT&T is tossing in Starbucks access if you are a customer of its television, broadband, Internet and wireless services;
- Starbucks wants more repeat customers and sign-ups for its Starbucks Card, which is what you'll need to use the Wi-Fi access for free;
- Apple plays a role here too. Apple and Starbucks are partnering on iTunes music purchases.
Under the terms of the Starbucks deal, a Starbucks Card holder will get two hours of access for free. After that it's $3.99 per session. A monthly membership will run $19.99 a month. The rollout begins this sprint and will be completed by the end of 2008.
However, the Starbucks WiFi deal was just an add-on for AT&T. Separately, Starbucks said that it will use AT&T's network services for its point of sale and store operating systems.
AT&T had already operated Starbucks point of sale and other store systems.