AT&T starts Starbucks Wi-Fi rollout in San Antonio

Launch follows move from T-Mobile to AT&T service

AT&T Inc. and Starbucks Corp. today announced the start of a nationwide rollout of Wi-Fi service at some Starbucks coffee shops, starting with locations in San Antonio.

The nationwide rollout will continue throughout 2008, the companies said in a statement. The deal was first announced Feb. 11, when Starbucks said it was moving to AT&T Wi-Fi instead of T-Mobile USA as its in-store hot spot provider.

Although some reports have described the Starbucks rollout as offering free Wi-Fi, there are some limits. Starting May 1, AT&T broadband Internet and Wi-Fi customers who have paid a monthly fee to AT&T will have complimentary Wi-Fi access at more than 7,000 Starbucks locations nationwide. AT&T offers free Wi-Fi service to its three higher-speed residential broadband subscribers, all of its small business subscribers and all of its U-verse high-speed Internet subscribers.

For customers who have a Starbucks card for purchasing coffee and snacks, up to two hours of free Wi-Fi service will be available a day, the companies said in February. After two free hours, two more hours will cost $3.99, and a monthly subscription will cost $19.99. The companies did not provide further details today, but said there will be a "mix of free and paid connection options for both frequent and occasional Wi-Fi users and qualifying Starbucks customers."

T-Mobile had hot spot service in 5,000 Starbucks locations for a fee of $6 an hour or $9.99 a day. That service will continue because of a separate deal between AT&T and T-Mobile, Starbucks said in February.

The companies didn't provide details on the next market rollouts, and it wasn't clear if all the current T-Mobile sites will be rolled into AT&T service.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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