T-Mobile Sues Starbucks Over AT&T Free Wi-Fi

Less than a week after Starbucks kicked off its free Wi-Fi, Starbucks now finds itself facing the prospect of legal action for allegedly breaking a service transfer agreement it had in place with T-Mobile USA.

Filed late last week in a New York state court, the lawsuit claims that Starbucks has violated a transitional partnership contract agreed with T-Mobile back in February. Deutsche Telekom-owned T-Mobile USA is seeking unspecified damages on the grounds of breach of contract and unfair competition.

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Starbucks Kick Off Free Wi-Fi

Starting Tuesday, customers who purchase a minimum $5 reloadable Starbucks Card, register online for the Starbucks Rewards Card program, and use the card at least once a month will be available to enjoy two hours of free Wi-Fi a day. However, the two hours must be consecutive. New members also receive a voucher for a free drink.

(Source: USA Today)

Prediction: Starbucks Wi-Fi will soon be free

Starbucks, the giant coffee chain with 13,168 locations worldwide, was a pioneer in rolling out wireless Internet access for customers. Along with partners T-Mobile and Hewlett-Packard, the company offers Wi-Fi for those who pay either a one-time connection fee or a monthly fee for all the Wi-Fi you can handle.

When Starbucks introduced for-pay Wi-Fi in 2002, it seemed like a great deal (especially for business customers who could expense it). But five years later, the model appears old and stale and ready for a complete overhaul.

Prediction: Starbucks will start rolling out free Wi-Fi access within one year.

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Note: Wi-Fi in Starbucks Malaysia is already free.