AT&T's free Wi-Fi service will soon be gone from all 7,000 U.S. Starbucks locations and replaced with Google's Wi-Fi offering, along with the promise of speeds that are ten times faster than what's currently available in the coffee shops. In cities where Google Fiber is already in place, the Internet search giant claims Starbucks customers will see Internet speeds up to 100 times what they currently experience through AT&T's Wi-Fi service.
AT&T is out and Google is in as the free Wi-Fi provider in 7,000 Starbucks locations
Google Access General Manager Kevin Lo said the transition away from AT&T will start in August with new Starbucks locations, and will roll out to all of the company's U.S. locations within 18 months. Assuming Google's Internet speeds can live up to the promise, Starbucks customers will be in for a treat since many if its locations suffer from dismally slow connection speeds, especially during high traffic times.
Even though Google will be providing in-store Wi-Fi, AT&T isn't out of the mix. The coffee company still has a working relationship with AT&T, and a company spokesperson told The Mac Observer, "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."
Speed clearly wasn't the only consideration in Starbucks' decision to switch Wi-Fi providers. AT&T's latest proposal to Starbucks included a 10x speed boost as well, hinting that Google came to the table with something else that made its deal more enticing.
Starbucks had already struck a deal with Google last month to offer free Google Play All Access music streaming in its stores. Apple offers free songs, apps and ebooks every week in Starbucks locations, too.
Despite complaints about slow network speeds, Starbucks is a popular spot for people looking for Internet away from their home or office, and in many areas is a community meeting place. With substantially faster Internet performance Starbucks could draw in even more customers than it already does.
Like AT&T's Wi-Fi, Google Wi-Fi will be available for free. While the idea that Google would give us free Internet access out of the goodness of it's heart, the reality is that the company is getting something in exchange for its apparent generosity. Most likely, money is changing hands, and Google will have access to more information about our Web browsing habits that it can in turn use to generate ad revenue.
The deals Starbucks has with Apple, the online news papers, Marvel Comics, and others are still in place and look to stay that way, at least for now.
[This article has been updated with addition information and a statement from AT&T]