Back in my angry Starbucks barista days, there was this one guy who came in every morning right at opening time (5 am) to get one cup of coffee and sit down at a table with his computer for hours. In retrospect, I realize that he was probably an entrepreneur who was trying to get some work done before the kids woke up and the day started. But at the time, I just assumed he was an unemployed bum who was taking advantage of Starbucks’s free WiFi. (We’ve all done it.)
Now, unemployed bums (and entrepreneurs) can celebrate, because Starbucks WiFi is about to get a big boost in speed and performance. Google announced Wednesday morning that it will now be supplying all 7000 Starbucks locations with WiFi. The rollout will take place over the next 18 months and Starbucks customers can expect WiFi speeds that are 10X faster. Starbucks locations in Google Fiber cities (Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, MO for now, but 14 more cities throughout Kansas, Missouri, and Texas are coming soon) will get Internet speeds up to 100X faster.
Until now, AT&T has been supplying Starbucks’s WiFi, which customers can get without a purchase or password.
“Google has long invested in helping the Internet grow stronger, including projects to make Internet access speedier, more affordable, and more widely available,” wrote Kevin Lo, GM of Google Access, in a blog post. “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.”
The rollout will start in August and customers will know when Google has reached their Starbucks when they can log onto the “Google Starbucks” SSID.
This isn’t the first time Google has offered free WiFi. Last week, San Francisco mayor Ed Lee announced that Google would be shelling out $600,000 as a donation to supply 31 San Francisco parks and recreation centers with two years of free WiFi starting November. Google has previously supplied free WiFi to neighborhoods in New York City and Boston.
Also last week, Starbucks announced that it will now offer free wireless charging for smartphones in Silicon Valley locations. All tables will be equipped with a Powermat charger, customers with a Power Matters Alliance certified device or case will be able to simply set their device down and begin charging.
Starbucks has powered up in recent years to become the go-to coffee joint for tech-savvy patrons. In addition to free downloads and 15 free articles of the New York Times, Starbucks also partnered with Square last year to allow customers to pay with their Square Wallet app.
Image source: stillblondeafteralltheseyears.com