T-Mobile sues Starbucks over Wi-Fi deal

T-Mobile says the coffee giant "secretly" developed a plan with AT&T to provide Wi-Fi at its cafes, despite an exclusive partnership with T-Mobile.

T-Mobile USA is suing Starbucks, accusing the coffee behemoth of a breach of contract by allowing AT&T to provide customers with free Wi-Fi access in its cafes.

In a complaint filed Thursday in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, T-Mobile says Starbucks "secretly" developed a plan with AT&T to provide Wi-Fi at its cafes, despite an exclusive partnership with T-Mobile. T-Mobile, which is seeking unspecified damages, alleges the companies broke an agreement over how Starbucks should transition the service from T-Mobile to AT&T, according to Reuters.

T-Mobile said that, under the agreement, it had the exclusive right to "sell, market, and promote" its services in Starbucks up until the stores were completely transitioned to AT&T's system, according to the lawsuit. T-Mobile says it is currently bearing the brunt of the cost of the service because it is providing the technology and equipment in all but two of Starbucks' U.S. markets--the San Antonio, Texas, and Bakersfield, Calif., markets.

In February, Starbucks ended its seven-year partnership with T-Mobile in favor of an agreement with AT&T. Under the old partnership with T-Mobile, customers would sign up for Wi-Fi for hourly and daily rates.

Under the new partnership, Starbucks in June began offering two hours of free Wi-Fi Internet service via AT&T to customers who purchase a Starbucks Reward Card with a minimum $5 credit on it. To keep the card active, customers must use their Starbucks Card at least once a month. New members of the service also get a voucher for a free drink.

Tech Culture
About the author

Desiree Everts DeNunzio is a freelance editor and writer. She's dabbled in digital media and technology for the past decade, including stints at CNET News and Wired magazine. When she's not fiddling with various gadgets, she spends her time running after chickens and her own brood.


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