Starbucks Finally Gets Free Wireless. Sort Of.

According to this New York Times article, AT&T will be offering free wireless internet at most Starbucks stores beginning this spring. I’ve long hated T-Mobile (Starbucks’ longtime, money-gouging internet partner), and I’ve wondered why anyone would hang out at a Starbucks when so many mom and pop cafes offer free internet access. This must have been frustrating for Starbucks as well–especially in a city like Austin, where virtually every type of business, including movie theatres and bookstores, offer free wifi.

There is a small catch though–only customers who use a Starbucks purchase card will get free time. The rest will have to pay $4 for every two hours of use, or $20 per month (which will also grant access to the nationwide network of non-Starbucks AT&T hotspots). But compared to T-Mobile’s pricing, that’s not bad at all. They charged as much as $40 per month, $10 per day, or $6 per hour for internet use.

In emergencies, I’ve sometimes grudgingly paid for the $10 day pass, but I’ve rarely spent more than an hour online at Starbucks. So a cheaper, two-hour plan seems much more reasonable to me.

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