Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced that free Wi-Fi would be offered at all Starbucks cafes starting July 1. The free Wi-Fi service will be easy to connect to and route all users to a customized Yahoo! portal that will allow visitors to access Web sites and services that typically require a paid subscription, including WSJ.com.
Currently, Starbucks customers must log-in to Starbucks’ Wi-Fi networks using AT&T credentials. AT&T DSL customers can access the Internet for free at Starbucks. Otherwise, customers need to purchase a Starbucks gift card that includes complimentary access for up to two hours per session.
At the WIRED Business conference, the Starbuscks chief explained that the Starbucks is embracing social and digital media. Starbucks has created a new business unit called ‘Digital Ventures’ to work on the in-store digital content. At launch the login portal that will greet Starbucks customers with cntent from iTunes, The New York Times, Patch, USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! and ZAGAT. Apple will offer a free iTunes download each week through the portal.
Free Wi-Fi will be available at all company-owned Starbucks stores in the United States. This excludes some locations, including Starbucks counters located in grocery stores.
Starbucks’ free Wi-Fi program will continue to run on AT&T’s network.