Starbucks ditches T-Mobile for AT&T

The move is a logical next step for the coffee chain, considering it already has Wi-Fi-related deals in place with Apple's AT&T-powered iPhone.

Ubiquitous caffeine conglomerate Starbucks has ended its Wi-Fi partnership with T-Mobile in favor of one with AT&T.

Under the earlier plan with T-Mobile, Starbucks customers needed a paid subscription to access the in-store Wi-Fi service, and T-Mobile HotSpot subscribers will continue to have access to Starbucks Wi-Fi thanks to an agreement between AT&T and T-Mobile. But the new AT&T plan allows all customers 2 free hours per day, with a $3.99 fee for additional 2-hour chunks of time. Monthly subscriptions will cost $19.99 and will enable access to other AT&T hot-spot locations in addition to Starbucks.

In addition, AT&T broadband customers will be able to surf at the more than 7,000 Starbucks locations in the U.S. for free. The new Wi-Fi partnership is expected to be introduced gradually at Starbucks locations this spring.

It's an understandable move on Starbucks' part; the coffee chain has a number of deals in place with Apple and its iTunes Store . Apple uses AT&T as the mobile service provider for the iPhone. Rumors of a Starbucks mobile ordering interface for the iPhone have been circulating for months.

The new partnership also extends to the business side of Starbucks: AT&T will also power an "enterprise class" network for internal operations.

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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