Starbucks keeps up Wi-Fi rollout

Customers will be able to surf the Web wirelessly for free at more Starbucks stores, thanks to the magic of Wi-Fi

Coffee retailer Starbucks announced on Tuesday that it has increased its rollout of Wi-Fi hot spots.

The company has installed wireless local area networks (WLANs) at four more stores. Three are located in London -- at Farringdon, Fenchurch Street and Soho's Wardour Street -- and one on Colmore Row, Birmingham.

These hot spots will allow customers to surf the Web, check email and download files at high speed for free, as long as they have an 802.11b-compatible laptop or PDA.

Back in August last year, Starbucks set up its first two UK Wi-Fi hot spots, both in London. This was part of a global rollout of high-speed wireless Internet services, in partnership with T-Mobile and HP.

In rolling out a Wi-Fi network, Starbucks and its partners are competing with several other companies, including BT and Megabeam.

Currently, Wi-Fi hot spots operate at 2.4GHz and use 802.11b. In three weeks' time, it will be legal for UK operators to run Wi-Fi hot spots based on 802.11a, after the government announced on Tuesday that it is deregulating parts of the 5GHz spectrum used by the new standard.

Click here to see a map of the UK's Wi-Fi hot spots.

Discover the latest developments in Wi-Fi, 3G, GPRS and other cutting-edge wireless technologies at ZDNet UK's Wireless News Section.

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