Food - Drink
When did Starbucks begin offering free Wi-Fi to customers?
By Jen Peng
According to CNet, Starbucks founder Howard Shultz always wanted the coffee chain to become a "third place" (after home and the workplace), where people can socialize and work. The availability of free Wi-Fi at each one of the 9,265 company-operated stores and 6,608 licensed Starbucks stores in the US in 2022 has certainly helped Shultz's vision.
In 2002, Starbucks started providing hotspot services, through T-Mobile, as a free initial trial at around 1,200 US stores, with subsequent charges on a prepaid, pay-as-you-go, and monthly basis. The coffee chain then switched its network to AT&T at its 7,000 US stores in 2008 and started offering two free hours of Wi-Fi access per day to Starbucks Card holders.
However, in 2010 Starbucks provided free and unlimited Wi-Fi to all customers at all of its stores. Later, in 2013, the coffee chain switched to Google as its Wi-Fi partner, which resulted in download speeds that were 18x faster, and upload speeds that were 6x faster than previously available under AT&T, making the coffee chain a hit among its customers.