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Google Brews Up Free, Faster Wi-Fi for Starbucks

Google Brews Up Free, Faster Wi-Fi for Starbucks
By Jennifer LeClaire

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The AT&T network is congested and Starbucks users who have access to the Google Wi-Fi will be pleasantly surprised -- plus it's free. "Google is coming in at a very aggressive price point and they are looking to wake up the existing carriers with their service," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group.
 



Whether you are a member of the mobile workforce hunkering down on a presentation over a Latte or just like to check your social media while you sip your chai tea, you're accustomed to free Wi-Fi access in Starbucks. If you've ever wished the connection was faster, Google may be your dream come true.

Google is pushing AT&T out of the picture in Starbucks, bringing its own Wi-Fi network to the 7,000-plus stores in the upscale coffee chain. And Google is promising that it's free Wi-Fi connections are faster than what's currently in store.

"Every day, our customers rely on the free Wi-Fi at Starbucks to study, work, connect with friends or just relax," said Starbucks chief digital officer Adam Brotman. "We want to make sure that they can access the Web effortlessly and quickly, no matter what they're doing, or what device they are using."

The Need for Speed

When your local Starbucks Wi-Fi network goes Google, promised Google Access general manager Kevin Lo, you'll be able to surf the web at speeds up to 10 times faster than before. And if you're in a Google Fiber city, the company is hoping to get you a connection that's up to 100 times faster.

The only downside: It will take 18 months for the full roll out -- unless you happen to be in one of the Google Fiber cities the company mentioned. So far, Google is just getting started in Kansas City, Kan. and Kansas City, Mo. But a slew of both Kansas and Missouri cities, as well as Provo, Utah and Austin are on the list of new cities the company has targeted. Google plans to start rolling out the new networks in Starbucks stores this August.

"Google has long invested in helping the Internet grow stronger, including projects to make Internet access speedier, more affordable, and more widely available," Lo said. "The free Internet connection at Starbucks has become an important part of many communities over the years, such as in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, or for students without Internet at home who do their homework at Starbucks."

Challenging Wireless Carriers

AT&T could not immediately be reached for comment but in a published statement said, "Starbucks continues to be an important customer for us and we continue to provide them with a variety of services over AT&T's advanced networks, including the nation's fastest, most reliable 4G LTE network."

We caught up with Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group, to get his thoughts on the leap. He told us the AT&T network is congested and Starbucks users who have access to the Google Wi-Fi will be pleasantly surprised -- plus it's free.

"This move showcases the risk carriers have. Clearly, Google is coming in at a very aggressive price point and they are looking to wake up the existing carriers with their service. They want to drive down the cost of good bandwidth service and they are likely to do that," Enderle said.

"Google is a bandwidth-based service and they are having a huge amount trouble of with YouTube delivery through the carriers right now, particularly during high traffic times," he added. "That's really hurting Google so the company is using its Wi-Fi push as a way to point out to the carriers that the problem isn't fixed, they will fix it and the carrier's will be out of the picture."
 

Tell Us What You Think
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Worried Consumer:

Posted: 2013-07-31 @ 3:59pm PT
Google spyware included? no thank you. I will get my coffeine and my WiFi somewhere else, or use my 4G LTE device. I do not need more Google tracking and ads in my life.



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