Starbucks Launching Digital Network and Free U.S. Wi-Fi

Working SBUX

In what must surely be a nod that more establishments offer free Wi-Fi than ever before, Starbucks will do the same in its U.S. stores effective July 1. The free Wi-Fi and Starbucks Digital Network will be through a partnership with Yahoo! to provide free content to premium web sites such as The Wall Street Journal. This partnership is not exclusive, so the chain could forge other offerings with other partners in the future.

Starbucks has previously offered two hours of free Wi-Fi in its stores for customers with a registered company card but that requirement is lifted July 1. The free Wi-Fi service is being touted by Starbucks as “one click” access so there must be a button on a web page somewhere that connects the customer to the web. The Digital Network will be launching later this year.

The biggest losers with this announcement are Boingo and other Wi-Fi providers. No doubt some customers of these providers subscribe to get Wi-Fi in Starbucks and that need just disappeared in a puff of cappuccino steam.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Are You Empowering Your Mobile Work Force?

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