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.

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