Google to offer Wi-Fi in 7,000 Starbucks locations


Coffee mugs are pictured on display at a Starbucks coffee store in Pasadena, California July 25, 2013. (MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)

Google on Wednesday announced plans to offer wireless Internet in 7,000 U.S. Starbucks locations, which could be up to 10 times faster than the current service Wi-Fi provided by AT&T.

The new service — free to Starbucks customers — is slated to roll out over 18 months starting in August. In cities equipped with Google Fiber, a high speed fiber optic network currently available in Kansas City, Kan. and Kansas City, Mo., (and soon to be in Provo, Utah and Austin, Tex.) , the Wi-Fi could be up 100 times faster, Kevin Lo, a Google general manager, noted in an official blog post announcing the deal.

Starbucks and Google agreed to work with global telecommunications firm Level 3 Communications to install and manage the network.

Google and Starbucks also plan to collaborate on a new version of the Starbucks Digital Network, a channel of exclusive news and entertainment content accessible at Starbucks locations. Starbucks originally launched Starbucks Digital Network in 2010 in partnership with Yahoo.

“Coffee shop + Internet—it’s a pairing that many of us have come to rely on. WiFi access makes work time, downtime, travel time and lots of in-between times more enjoyable and productive,” Lo wrote on the blog.

“The free Internet connection at Starbucks has become an important part of many communities over the years, such as in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, or for students without Internet at home who do their homework at Starbucks.”

Mohana Ravindranath covers IT and small business for the Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication.
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