Free at last. Today, Starbucks announced its plan to offer free Wi-Fi Internet access beginning July 1.
After seeing its first increase in customers in 13 quarters, the Seattle-based coffee company will offer free Wi-Fi through AT&T at 6,700 locations nation-wide, a decision that came just six months after McDonalds began offering free Wi-Fi to customers in 11,500 of its locations. Though the move could be seen as an attempt to take the edge away from the fast food franchise, which rolled out its own successful McCafe gourmet coffee line, the most interesting part of the announcement concerns the amount of free online access available exclusively for Starbucks customers.
Dubbed the Starbucks Digital Network, the Wi-Fi portal will allow free access to paid sites like the Wall Street Journal, along with exclusive downloads from other sites like iTunes, The New York Times, Patch, USA TODAY, Yahoo and Zagat, according to the AP. No word on how the network will work with mobile users.