1,000 Californian Starbucks offering free wifi test

Mike’s prediction looks to be coming true…

Link: The Raw Feed: Starbucks Tests Free Wi-Fi In California

Well, the prediction is happening… sort of. Starbucks is TESTING FREE WI-FI at some 1,000 Southern California stores (until October 31).

So this is quite interesting, particularly after I went absolutely nuts about a year ago when I realised just how much T-Mobile was charging, per minute, for access to WiFi in Starbucks stores.

I’ve since used my T-Mobile WiFi account (I added that to my monthly subscription a while ago) quite a few times to perform business-life-saving updates or edits when I’ve been on the road.

If you’re in California, perhaps you could pop into your nearest Starbucks and confirm if they’ve got free WiFi?

I suspect that free Starbucks WiFi will be a massive draw for passing and regular customers. That’s provide that folk don’t spend the whole afternoon hogging tables whilst working on WiFi and only buying one bottle of water…

Introducing free (inter)national WiFi in Starbucks would also change the dynamic on wireless devices. I can’t be arsed, for example, to configure my Nokia N95 to find the T-Mobile hotspot, then LOG ON to the access page and type my extremely long and annoying username and password assigned by the service. It would take a good five minutes of typing to do this. So I never bother using WiFi on my N95 — or my iPhone, for that matter, unless it’s free to use.

It’d also prompt a heck of a lot of other store chains to take a look at their pay-WiFi (or lack of WiFi) — e.g. McDonalds and BT Openzone here in the UK.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

4 replies on “1,000 Californian Starbucks offering free wifi test”

I’m spending a bit of time out here in Egypt and I can confirm that Starbucks have been offering free WiFi for yonks. I don’t particularly use it for VOIP because the line speeds out here back to the UK aren’t fantastic, although I see a lot of locals do just that. But a Sunday morning just wouldn’t be the same without downloading my 40MB copy of The Sunday Times overseas edition whilst sipping a double espresso. And even little dodgy Alf Leila coffee shop offers free wifi as long as you buy his turkish coffee and puff on the delicious shisha pipes.

So maybe Egypt is one of those test-beds for global corporations. But it has always struck me as the obvious model – Starbucks sell coffee, not internet time; so do whatever is needed to pull in the punters to buy your coffee. But don’t let yourself get diverted into doing things outside your core offering.

The prediction is no closer to coming true at all. They’re not “testing” free Wi-Fi, they’re making the hotspots free in response to the wildfires in southern California, as their press release makes clear. They did something similar after hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast in 2005 and after other disasters.

See Glenn Fleishman’s excellent explanation of why the original prediction that Starbucks’ Wi-Fi will go free is way wide of the mark.

You need to get Devicescape for the N95 to automate logins. It works a treat on mine with BTOpenzone and I will try it on T-Mobile soon.

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