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Starbucks Drops T-Mobile For AT&T 207

stoolpigeon writes "Ars reports that Starbucks is replacing T-Mobile with AT&T as their Wi-Fi provider. AT&T broadband customers will be able to access the service for free. Starbucks card users will get 2 hours a day free. 2-hour, daily, and monthly rates will be lower than they were with T-Mobile. Starbucks says that their previously announced deal to tie in with iTunes will continue under AT&T. For now AT&T isn't offering free Wi-Fi to iPhone users, but says it expects to accommodate them soon. Quoting the article: 'The companies didn't specify exactly when the rollout would begin, only saying that it would take place this spring... [The company plans] to install all new equipment at Starbucks as part of this agreement, so the changeover won't be as simple as flipping a switch.'"
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Starbucks Drops T-Mobile For AT&T

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  • Hooray? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Arclight17 ( 812976 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:33AM (#22388146)
    If I want wireless while I'm out and about, I go to Panera or a local cafe that offers it for free....
    So BFD if it changes!
    I use [] to find free wifi when I'm away from home. (No, I don't work for them or get money for it :)
    • Re:Hooray? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:36AM (#22388158)
      If you RTFA, you'll see that people who use one of those Starbucks cards at the register (which you can fill by dropping some cash in it once in a while) will get 2 hours of no-extra-charge WiFi while they're there. Sure you can be a parasite at Panera without buying anything, but it's fairly bad form. Starbucks will get clobbered on bandwidth, but they'll sell some more coffee, and they'll earn a little interest on the $5 everyone will have sitting on those pre-loaded cards.
      • Re:Hooray? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by amRadioHed ( 463061 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:51AM (#22388308)
        Why be a parasite? Panera has coffee too. I'm in total agreement with the OP, any coffee shop worth spending any time in already has free wifi. Who needs Starbucks?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by EggyToast ( 858951 )
          Places like Baltimore, which have no good coffee shops. There's an area near my work that has 1 starbucks and 3 local shops. The 3 local shops serve bad coffee and have a horrible attitude, but offer free wireless. Unsurprisingly, no one there is ever using a laptop. At starbucks, where you have to pay to use it? Packed. Consistently packed, at that, with paying wireless users.

          Maybe it's cos they make your coffee, however you like it, and still smile about it (no eye rolling or snooty remarks). Ma
          • Re:Hooray? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by geminidomino ( 614729 ) * on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @09:44AM (#22391126) Journal
            The 3 local shops serve bad coffee and have a horrible attitude, but offer free wireless.

            As opposed to Starbucks, which serves expensive bad coffee, has a horrible attitude, then charges you for wireless?

            They aren't at starbucks for the coffee. They're there for the oxymoronic "hipster cred".

          • been to The Grind in Fells Point? Good coffee and good Wi-Fi. Drinking a cup right now. No Starbucks though. Most of us won't stand for that on the FP side of the line.
          • That's a pretty good point. I was talking with a Caribou (very big in Minnesota, I prefer it to SB, and they have free wifi) executive some years ago and she mentioned that any coffee shop can take on Starbucks, Caribou, Dunn Bros as long as they have something worthwhile to offer. This is why you see a lot of corner coffee shops in college towns.

            Personally, I have no qualms about ordering a standard cup of coffee at a free wifi hotspot and surfing for an hour. If it's not crowded then I don't feel bad,

          • by cHiphead ( 17854 )
            Find a Caribou Coffee, its miles beyond Starbucks in quality even if its the same corporate froofy bs experience. Albeit, if you have a dunkin donuts with wifi, might as well save $2 on a cup of coffee and go there, their stuff aint too bad.
        • Re:Hooray? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Zemran ( 3101 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @02:41AM (#22388938) Homepage Journal
          any coffee shop worth spending any time in already has free wifi.

          I am sitting in the coffee shop of the art gallery in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, using the free WiFi... Where is Starbucks? (O.K. we have got SB here but who needs it?). As you say, every decent coffee shop now has free WiFi...
      • Re:Hooray? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:44AM (#22388628)
        >Sure you can be a parasite at Panera without buying anything,

        You might find the definition of parasite to be interesting when it comes to coffee shops.

        I read a study (or perhaps a well written rant) about how places that offer unlimited wifi tend to do much, much worse than places that dont. Why? Because people will turn a table into their office and fill up all the seats, thus providing a big disincentive for people to actually go in there and drink coffee and buy a baked good.

        I live in a major city and I can picture all the free-wifi places in my neighborhood and I absolutely hate them all. Theyre all packed with kids/students who are myspace addicts and your 9-5'er doing work. There are no free tables. And the best part is that these people are there ALL DAY and I'm sure barely spend 10 dollars, if that. In fact the big free wifi place here recently went out of business. I dont know how they stayed in business. You had 15 people there taking all the seats for hours and buying a 3 dollar product!

        So it turns out that if you want to stay in business and sell coffee you need to not turn your shop into a laptop hangout. Even starbucks knows this. They can easily foot any bandwidth cost but they would know their shop would turn into a 'business center' in no time and that will hurt them badly in the end. Instead they want you to buy product and get the hell out. If you need wifi its there but you'll need to pay. Interesting that they are going with the starbucks card approach.

        Interesting stuff. Panera suffers from this but your typical panera is much larger than your typical starbucks and all the noise doesnt make it conducive to getting things done like a coffeehouse does.

        • Re:Hooray? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @04:28AM (#22389426) Homepage Journal
          It all began with the death of table service. Was a time when the waiter would kindly ask people if they wanted another coffee or a snack at regular intervals.. if the customer refused, say, 3 times, the waiter would ask them to either order something or leave - this isn't a library.

          But hey, that was back when your coffee didn't come in a paper cup.
          • There are many restaurants (e.g., McDonalds) that install seats LESS comfortable than they could so you're not encouraged to stick around. "Turns" is a big concept in most businesses, but especially so in restaurants that need to meet demand during peak mealtimes to turn a profit.
        • I was pleasantly surprised to find Free WiFi making inroads into Europe - using my iPod Touch at my local Café, Skype and Aftonbladet (the major Swedish tabloid) offered free Wi-Fi. Let's hope it spreads.
          • It doesn't make the same inroads because it doesn't get used the same.. you can pick up a 3G dongle for your laptop for next to nothing (£10 a throw in the UK) and have internet wherever you are, so Wifi really isn't seen as being needed, as it's way more expensive than mobile data. Starbucks and McDonalds do it (never seen anyone using the McDonalds one though) but for smaller shops it's not worth the hassle.

            I wonder what starbucks in europe will do now? OK in many of their shops their advertised w
            • Rereading your post you say you've seen free wifi? Wow.. that's a rarity. None at all within about 10 miles of here that I've ever seen. McDonalds is free but also crap (it throws adverts at you), so nobody uses it. Starbucks of course is the usual £5 per hour fare.

        • Yup... I live in NYC - a pretty big city :) The free Wifi is now restricted to McDonalds, the new Juan Valdez chain, and a few holdouts. When you pay $20,000/month in rent for a 1000 sq ft store, you can't have people camping out with their laptops. DTUT just closed up shop on the Upper East Side, and the only other free Wifi shop just pulled the plug on their router. This will be very welcome in NYC, where Starbucks are located every 3 blocks and already serve as the public restrooms.

          Too bad their coffee i
      • The other week I missed my bus so decided to take refuge from the cold in the Starbucks across the way, bought a coffee and tried play with my new internet tablet for half an hour. Turns out Starbucks doesn't have free wifi. I won't be going back. It is bad enough that the coffee is mediocre, but no wifi??
        • The other week I missed my bus so decided to take refuge from the cold in the Starbucks across the way, bought a coffee and tried play with my new internet tablet for half an hour. Turns out Starbucks doesn't have free wifi. I won't be going back. It is bad enough that the coffee is mediocre, but no wifi??

          I know it's too much trouble to actually read the article and everything, but how about reading the comment to which you just replied? The point is that you CAN get free WiFi there as a coffee-buying cu
          • If I have to have a special prepaid card for the coffee just to use the wifi, it isn't free. It is lock-in. Free would be including a 1 use code on the receipt with every purchase.
            • it isn't free

              Other than not costing you anything.

              It is lock-in

              Who's locked in? Just go away, and use someone else's bandwidth. You're not locked into anything. This is their way of keeping their network resources tied to their customers, not to just anyone to whom a paper reciept is handed on the way out of door. It's not a public service, it's a coffee vendor providing something that many of their customers want, at no charge.

              Are you really so worried about tying up $10 in a card? If you're tha
      • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) *

        Starbucks will get clobbered on bandwidth

        They could pay for a OC-192 with the markup they are making on their coffee ;)

        Well, maybe not that extreme, but I'm sure that they did studies proving that whatever the bandwidth costs is more then made up for by people sitting there and buying products. Bandwidth is cheap. All the more so if they have a nationwide deal and AT&T is bringing the pipes in.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Divebus ( 860563 )
      Of course! How else would you order a double shot half-caf skinny almond latte with your iPhone before you get there?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tirerim ( 1108567 )
      How do you get to that website when you don't have wireless access? Seriously, free wifi is great, but unless you plan carefully in advance, it's not always easy to find. Starbucks, on the other hand, is everywhere, so I'm glad that on the rare occasions that I'm willing to pay for wireless it will be cheaper. ($4 for two hours is about on the upper end of what I'm willing to pay; I still want to see a micropayments model, where I can buy 15 minutes for 50 cents. At that point, it would be worth it just
      • Wireless is a pain, as connection problems are more difficult to diagnose than they should be. Problems could be not getting a good signal, authorization information is bad, or someone's configuration (yours or theirs) is wrong, and it is sometimes difficult to tell which of those it is thanks to lousy feedback to the users.

        Public libraries are everywhere, not too difficult to find, and pretty much all of them have computers connected to the Internet. No guilt trip either for not buying anything. Downs

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tony1343 ( 910042 )
      I agree, I go to a Panera. Actually, in the city I live in, the two closest Starbucks to me are both right next to a Panera. People sit in Starbucks and use Panera's WiFi. The one Starbucks is by a University. From within the Starbucks you can pick up multiple free WiFi signals. I do not understand how Starbucks can justify charging. Who actually pays for this? I will simply go somewhere where it is free (and there are multiple other coffee shops that have free WiFi in my city). I always thought thi
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by metlin ( 258108 )
        To answer you, Starbucks is charging because making it free will only make more people flock there for the wrong reasons. Starbucks tries hard to be open yet picky about its customers (notice their prices, compared to say, McDonalds?). It's that fine balance.

        And in most cities, Starbucks are usually too crowded - too many people loitering around for the wifi would only make it worse.

        If you are really desperate, just buy an EVDO card from one of the providers, and you can have Internet wherever you want (wel
        • by Wolfier ( 94144 )
          Why not make it customer only for limited time and then you can buy more time?

          I can understand the price being there to deal with the freeloaders, but when I buy something there, they used to give me 30 minutes of free Wifi (that was 4 years ago).

          Now, customer or not they're charging.  Those who called the shot were boneheaded.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Allador ( 537449 )

        I do not understand how Starbucks can justify charging. Who actually pays for this?

        Starbucks doesnt charge, T-Mobile does. I'm sure there are kickbacks in both directions on the deal though.

        And as I've said to others before, there are compelling reasons for some folks.

        For me, its mostly about convenience, quality, consistency, and ubiquity.

        Everywhere I go in the city, or across the country, there's a starbucks. And I'm going there anyway to get my coffee, so the wifi is convenient. If I have to go hunting around for local coffee shops, and then the subsets of those that have free wifi

    • The only reason I go to starbucks (and unfortunately pay for the wireless) is that where i live they are the only 24 hour coffee shops and call me crazy but i get the most work done at a coffee shop late at night. In fact I get more done in about 3 hours (midnight to 3am or so) than i would if i was working in the office for 8 hours. I know its not everybody's cup of tee (coffee?), but hooray indeed from me if it means i'll be paying less than t-mobile overpriced service.
      • During a recent crazy snowstorm up in the metro Boston area, I spent four or five hours camped out in a Bertucci's eating, drinking, having coffee, surfing the net on my evdo card, and doing work on my english final. I get more "work" done out of the office than in it.
    • Oh how I wish to live where free wifi is common! Here, even if you visit a coffee shop its a paid for service, or with a 10mb cap...

    • by papasui ( 567265 )
      Dumb question, when you say Panera are you refering to Panera Bread? Those just started showing up here recently in Wisconsin.
      • Uh, yeah,.. Panera refers to Panera Bread. They're almost on every street corner here in Pittsburgh (but there's none in Arizona). Good food, and good wi-fi. Haven't tried their coffee, though.
    • Starbucks is alright,... not great, but certainly decent coffee. But I actually prefer the more localized coffee shops versus the national chains like Starbucks. In Pittsburgh, stop by Caribou Coffee []; in Flagstaff, Arizona, go to Late for the Train []. Both are superior to Starbucks, with free wi-fi.
    • It seems like whenever I am in need of wifi, there is never an open AP around.

      I work in Bellevue, WA. According to that web site, there are 7 places that offer free wifi in the whole city. I am sure the site isn't completely accurate, but still, there don't seem to be a lot of opportunities. Maybe it's a regional/cultural thing. Certainly when I check with my PDA, I rarely find anything, no matter where I am. (anecdote != data, I know)

      It's strange that some kind of connectivity are getting easier and cheape
  • I'm not much of a coffee drinker, nor am I a starbucks wallflower. But from time to time there have been occasions when I liked to grab a nice cup of herbal tea and just chill in a comfy chair in a coffeeshop. Starbucks was never on the list because they are/were the only shop in town that didn't offer free wifi.
    • Re:'bout bloody time (Score:4, Interesting)

      by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:45AM (#22388248)
      T-Mobile has been running a free six-month Hotspot campaign for PSP users [] since mid-2007...still in effect thru end of March I believe.
    • I'm not much of a coffee drinker ...

      LOL. Nor are most Starbucks patrons, it seems. Those folks in line are mostly ordering "drinks" which, from what I can gather, amount to a slice of chocolate cake thrown into a blender with some coffee, and served up with whip cream in a plastic cup and a straw. I guess drinking coffee out of a cup while using a fork to eat your desert is too fattening, or maybe just too old skool. ;-)

      That said, I agree about the "comfy chair" environment. Whether you want to soci
  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:39AM (#22388190) Homepage Journal
    Of course the NSA wants to offer WiFi at Starbucks. Dangerous radicals often meet at coffee shops.
  • by abes ( 82351 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:54AM (#22388320) Homepage
    There was a cafe nearby my old school in NYC which I used for doing a large part of my thesis writing. They started off having free wi-fi, but I think got sick of the freeloading (lots of students in the area), and so switched to an hourly-ticket system. Unfortunately whoever implemented the system did a very bad job of it. The problems ranged from making the network really unstable to having to rely on a printer to get your ticket (it's on a frigg'n network .. make a renewal webpage!), to the amount of time allotted (1 hour is not nearly long enough -- especially if someone comes up and starts talking to you).

    Which is not to say Starbucks will be doomed. Only that past experience with other systems (esp. counting every hotel and airport I've been to) has shown very few businesses know how to do these things right.

    It is *really* nice they're doing away with the pay-system for already paying customers. The amount T-Mobile was charging for access was crazy, and in the end I suspect all Starbucks cares about is getting more people into their store over-paying for the coffee. I have the option of working in Cafes, only I require internet-access. Until now I've been to chea^H^H^H^H thrifty to pay the additional cost (especially since I'm already paying for it at home). I'm much more likely now to spend some quality time in their stores.
  • by joshv ( 13017 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:05AM (#22388398)
    "[The company plans] to install all new equipment at Starbucks as part of this agreement, so the changeover won't be as simple as flipping a switch."

    No, it will be as simple as shipping out a new wi-fi hub and walking a barista through plugging it in and registering it over the phone.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by russlar ( 1122455 )
      Speaking as a former barista, they don't know shit about the wi/fi, and are guided by strongly worded policies not to touch the equipment under any circumstances. Baristas are not usually technically inclined, at least in Boston/Cambridge. This will be done by AT&T techs.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        As a current barista, I can vouch for what this person say is correct.

        At the 3 locations I have worked, 2 have had the T-mobile wifi. They usually park the equipment 2/3's up on a 7 foot server mount with signs like "Property of T-mobile" and "Do not touch without permission from T-Mobile". The smartjack is usually 7+ foot high bolted on the wall, or at least it was at both of my stores.

        I, however, know the T-mobile data plan rates, and warn customers... Well, I warn our regulars. They're our bread and butt
  • by ntimid8 ( 980393 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:07AM (#22388404)
    The main reason for the switch is that virtually every executive at their Seattle headquarters wants or already has an iPhone and they want the corporate discount.
  • Great news.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GiMP ( 10923 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:12AM (#22388442)
    I work from "home" and often head out for a change of venue. I normally go to Barnes & Noble because they have AT&T Wifi which has partnered with Boingo. The nice thing about Boingo is that it is only $20/mo, month-to-month. Both AT&T or TMobile are about $40/mo, month-to-month. Unfortunately, I still ended up paying some nasty fees to TMobile for the few times I've chosen to, or had to work from Starbucks. Now, I'll be able to use both, and thats a great thing, as where I am there isn't a whole lot of other choice. With a typical month including over 40 hours of coffee-shop patronage, a change of venue is much appreciated.

    For the 'just use free hotspots' crowd, my area generally has no coffee shops other than at Barnes & Noble and Starbucks. Both charge for their Wifi. We also have Burger Kings and Panara Bread with free internet. Unfortunately my area Burger King's don't have open power outlets and smell like burgers; Panara Bread requests that patrons limit their sessions to 30-minutes, and at least where I am, have had sub-par connectivity.
    • I've got a Treo 700 with a tethered data plan for $80/month with a 4GB cap. Use that and a decent power-managing laptop, and I average 4-5 hours unplugged. I get 600 or 750minuts of airtime, free nights and weekends, and unlimited SMS. Gosh, I remember when SMS was free for me...

      • by GiMP ( 10923 )
        I had a dataplan in Poland when I lived there a year, $40/mo for their "up to 3.7mbps" service. Realistically, I often got no more than 128kbps due to over-subscription, but towards the end, I was getting over 1mbps often enough. Regardless, there is no way am I going to pay $80-90/mo for a data plan in the US.

        The nice thing in the US is that a few carriers have inexpensive non-tethering data plans that while not permitted, have no technical barriers to doing so. Thats good for occasional access, for whe
  • by Fencepost ( 107992 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:13AM (#22388446) Journal
    For quite a while AT&T has offered access to their network to their DSL customers for $2.99/month, but recently they announced that they were dropping that to "free for our DSL customers." So, in addition to McD's, Barnes & Noble and some other locations, you can now get effectively free access at Starbucks as well.

    Handy, that.

    If I was still paying $20/month to T-Mobile this'd sure be the end of it. What's left in their network besides Borders bookstores?
    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      My company just got a ton of BB 8820's with WiFi, I wonder if our unlimited data plan is going to include use of the hotspots now...
    • by Macrat ( 638047 )

      If I was still paying $20/month to T-Mobile this'd sure be the end of it. What's left in their network besides Borders bookstores?

      Airports, hotels and Kinkos.

  • by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:23AM (#22388516) Homepage
    According to TechDirt [] at least. Seems they're just going to allow a choice, rather than replace T-Mobile with AT&T. But why let the facts get in the way of a good headline...
    • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @03:27AM (#22389094) Homepage
      The headline is essentially accurate. T-Mobile and AT&T have made an agreement to allow T-Mobile users to continue connecting at Starbucks. They are being "grandfathered in," so to speak. Thus, T-Mobile users don't get hosed, but it still remains the case that Starbucks is no longer working with T-Mobile.

      I'm a subscriber to a pretty substantial package of T-Mobile services. I have been happy with their service offerings, and their customer service has been outstanding. I can't help but wonder, though, as they fail to get the iPhone and start losing valuable partnerships like Starbucks, whether the benefits of their excellent service will start to mean less if they don't provide offerings with major partners like Apple. When these kind of alliances create unique opportunities, it is a path to monopoly - think Microsoft.
    • by node 3 ( 115640 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @03:33AM (#22389128)
      No, TechDirt is absolutely wrong.

      From Starbucks []:
      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.

      T-Mobile's hardware and network are being removed, and AT&T's are being installed. What's happened is AT&T and T-Mobile have a deal (probably at Starbucks' behest) to allow T-Mobile customers to access the AT&T hotspots in Starbucks.

      But why let the facts get in the way of a good headline...
  • I visited starbucks (Score:3, Informative)

    by EEPROMS ( 889169 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:29AM (#22388554)
    here in Sydney, I cant believe you guys call that crap coffee.
    • by kaos07 ( 1113443 )
      Depends how you say it. In Australia we get good tasting "Coffee". However in America their "Cawfee" taste like a goat lactated in a cup full of mechanical oil.
      • by Hadlock ( 143607 )
        Even for people in that part of the northeast, that's a fairly uncommon accent (cawfee).
        • Coffee can be pronounced either as kaw-fee, kof-ee in the U.S. I'm not sure of the regional breakdown, but I know that I switch back and forth between both. Couldn't find a good geographic guide to coffee pronunciations on the internet unfortunately.

          Elsewhere, coffee is written (not sure how some of these are pronounced though):

          Czech: k&#225;va
          Danish: kaffe
          Dutch: koffie
          Estonian: kohv
          Finnish: kahvi
          French: caf&#233;
          German: der Kaffee
    • by tuomoks ( 246421 ) <> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @04:01AM (#22389296) Homepage
      Here in Seattle - come and smell the real coffee. But don't go to Starbucks, any corner has a better coffee shop and real cups. And who drinks coffee out of paper or plastic mug anyway?? This city is full of free wifi places, not much reason to pay. Maybe not as good as S.F. but getting there.
      • Starbucks in Basel, Switzerland has nice porcelain mugs. As for the quality of the coffee, it's pretty easy to find some very good italian coffee at a small shop, and I like to support local business more than a multinational chain. Unfortunately (?), with people going to a coffee shop for the coffee, there's not much reason to install wi-fi in this places.
    • Here in the UK, if I've ever been to a Starbucks it's because the missus and I are out shopping of a weekend and she seems to like their coffee.

      I must admit that the coffee served in Starbucks and other chain coffee outlets is distinctly "average" and highly overpriced. The problem seems to be that these places are run by teenage kids who are just interested in churning out as much of the stuff as possible rather than delivering coffee drinks of any quality - bearing in mind we pay £2.50 (approx. $5

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by hxnwix ( 652290 )

      here in Sydney, I cant believe you guys call that crap coffee.
      Did the coffee swirl backwards?
    • You can get good coffee in the US - just not at a fast food place (including Starbucks). They over-roast the beans to make the - ahem - "quality" consistent, and then you have to drown it in milk or cream to make it drinkable.

      The place around the corner from me has such good coffee that I think they must be putting crack in it.
      • It's amazing the consistency you can get at a single store as well. My local dunkin's makes a sweet cup of coffee in the mornings, 5 - 7, but after that I can't get a good tasting cup until the next day. I'm not sure if it's just that the machines are clean or the crew, but the dunkin's two miles away makes crap every day of the week.

        • Yeah, you have to get fresh coffee. Even the coffee place that I was glowing about only has really good coffee during the morning, noon, and evening rush. Go when it is slow and the coffee is old and not as tasty. I just had a 2PM cup and it wasn't very good.

          People do seem to like Dunkin's coffee, but I find it a bit weak. And no wonder - if you buy it by the pound for home brewing, you have to use 2x the amount of most other ground coffee. Still better than the burnt stuff at Starbucks.
  • by rijrunner ( 263757 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:36AM (#22388594)

    Honestly, I was not even aware that there were still wifi coffee shops that you had to pay for internet access. Is that a Bay Area thing? In the Fort Collins CO area, most coffee shops I have been around have free wifi with no time limits.

    Seriously.. small shops have been doing this for years. DSL is down in the $20/month range and a wireless router is cheap. I suspect that the administrative overhead of managing a system like this one for Starbucks is not really worth the effort. Starbucks may have made their money on the T-Mobile deal, but I doubt it. IIRC, it was a $500 mill contract. And, a quick websearch shows a series of price cuts.

    Here's one from 2003: []

    "In the original story regarding the price drop, Starbucks New Ventures Director Lovina McMurchy is quoted as saying that even the busiest Starbucks shops get about 20 Wi-Fi devices on the network per day. While T-Mobile doesn't release cost information for providing the hotspot, the revenue generated from so few customers is probably not enough to cover costs of a high speed line -- the T-Mobile Hotspots are served by costly T1 lines -- and the revenue sharing between T-Mobile, Starbucks, and HP, which provides some software for the services." []

    "All the mom-and-pop coffee shops offer free Wi-Fi. In fact, most everyone does except Starbucks. The Seattle-based coffee house gets its hotspot piped in by T-Mobile. It's been reported for years that store managers at Starbucks has been complaining to upper management for a while about losing business because customers don't want to pay for their Internet after forking out $4 on a foo-foo drink."

    Here's my favorite: []

    "FON, a community WiFi provider headquartered in Madrid, Spain, is offering wireless Internet access to Starbucks' latte-sipping surfers for just $2 a day--versus the $10 users pay to sign onto the 5,100 T-Mobile hotspots at U.S. Starbucks (nasdaq: SBUX - news - people ).

    Just how does FON plan to steal away Starbucks Internet users? By offering FON wireless routers, also known as "La Foneras," free to anyone who lives above or next to a Starbucks. The routers, which usually cost $40, split an Internet broadband connection into two wireless signals--one for personal Internet use and the second for public use, which can be accessed by anyone within range for $2 per day. The routers' owners get to pocket half of the sign-on fee, and FON takes home the rest."

  • Panera (Score:2, Interesting)

    Try Panera. Their Wi-Fi is free, remarkably uncluttered for the amount of people in there using it, and the food is significantly better than StarBucks (and the coffee is cheaper).
    • thanks for the tip. If I could only get three of them to open up on any given street corner in my neighborhood I'd be glad to switch.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:49AM (#22388652)
    I work at a Starbucks, and have for 4 or so years. It's a great job, provides insurance for us on the treadmill of bachelors/masters programs when the school insurance plain stinks. We get lots of benefits, and a lot of latitude in how we do our job (make people happy above all else).

    Now, when it comes to that occasional "I need to check my email" or what have you, the T-mobile price and 'service' is just disgusting. 10$ a day, or 30$ a month?! Yeah, it's that bad. It's not like they have any choices here, do they? Well, yes, they do. All our Subways offer free wifi, as does a popular pizza chain, as does ALL the hotels in our area, as does other coffee shops, as does even the bar.

    Yeah, Starbucks is premium and all, and I can understand that. However, what seems simple is to print off the WEP key on a receipt so paying customers have free access. Our server could be easily tied into that kind of setup, in that it would provide no impact on us partners: we see this kind of integration in the drive thru stores, along with the "Bean Screens", and some stores the sticker machines.

    And I wouldn't see customers get disgruntled over paying 2$ for a cup of coffee then immediately going to Subway for their email.. We simply don't have the complete package that other coffee houses do.
  • I currently subscribe to T-Mobile's WiFi@Home feature so that I can place calls on my BlackBerry through WiFi. One of the coolest features was being able to place those calls from Starbucks for no additional charge. I wonder if there will still be some type of deal between AT&T and T-Mobile to allow that feature to continue.
  • Every Starbucks I've been to in the last 5 years or so, has had free wifi - except one, and I think that was because it was in an area covered by a commercial wifi service (but I'm not sure).
  • Hang on, I thought Starbucks was just another coffee shop. What do they have to do with T-Mobile, T-Rex or news for nerds for that matter?

  • Starbucks, double latte, iPhone lifestyle...

  • This means a new T1 for every store, as a T-Mobile provided T1 was part of the original deal.

    That means a lot of work for AT&T installers, and will take a while.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel