You may soon be able to sip your latte while surfing the ‘Net and checking e-mail at your local StarBucks. Over 1,200 locations of the coffee emporium in the US and Europe will offer high-speed wireless Internet access starting this week.
StarBucks, T-Mobile International (the wireless subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG), and Hewlett Packard Corp. will announce the rollout of the free T-Mobile HotSpot service today at a 10 am (Pacific) press conference in San Francisco, CA. Another 800 StarBucks locations in the U.S. are scheduled to feature the service by the end of the year. The companies have also initiated a six-month pilot in select London and Berlin locations.
T-Mobile HotSpot service uses 802.11b technology backed by T-1 connections. 802.11b is the same standard supported by Apple in its AirPort products. Other companies also sell 802.11b-compatible network cards and access points, many of which carry the “Wi-Fi” moniker.
The fee for using the T-Mobile HotSpot service varies between different plans: from $2.55 for a pay-as-you-go service to $29.99 per month for unlimited local use and $49.99 per month for unlimited national use in the U.S., the companies said. Starbucks, T-Mobile and HP are also offering users a free one-time 24-hour trial of the wireless broadband service.
Hewlett Packard fits into the picture because it’s the “preferred technology provider” for StarBucks corporate headquarters and its network of retail stores. HP is introducing a new Wireless Connection Manager, which is free, downloadable software for configuring wirelessly enabled Wintel notebooks and Pocket PCs to automatically sense and connect to available wireless networks.
You can tell if your local StarBucks has broadband wireless Internet access by looking for the T-Mobile HotSpot sign near Starbucks entrances or by visiting StarBucks or T-Mobile’s Web sites.
This is not the coffee company’s first attempt at offering wireless high-speed Internet access. Last year, StarBucks planned to work with MobileStar Network Corp. to connect their stores to MobileStar’s Wi-Fi network. However, the deal fell through in early October 2001.