Starbucks began offering free Wi-Fi in the early 2000’s and attracted plenty of new customers. They actually were the first major business chain to implement Wi-Fi at all their locations. Some Starbucks locations then had to make rules about Wi-Fi squatters. I became enraged at a Ridgewood, New Jersey Starbucks that kicked me out in 2008. While I was there for over two hours, I also spent more than $80 a week there on drinks and treats.
The problem with AT&T-powered Wi-Fi at Starbucks was that the Internet speeds couldn’t keep up with the times. By 2012, going to Starbucks in order to get work done became an inconvenience. Then, by the end of 2013, Starbucks partnered with Google for their Wi-Fi, which became ten times faster. The new Wi-Fi never disconnects during business hours.
By the beginning of 2014, most Starbucks still had the outdated AT&T Wi-Fi. I always drove to the Starbucks location in North Hollywood, which is about fifteen minutes away. The three closer Starbucks locations still don’t have Google Wi-Fi. However, the fifteen-minute trip is always worth it; the Google Wi-Fi allows me to download huge Torrent files while I surf the web and stream music.
I am noticing that more Starbucks locations are getting Google Wi-Fi. Last week, I went to a Burbank Starbucks that used AT&T just three weeks ago. Even later at night, they seemed more packed than usual. I am sure the Google Wi-Fi helps their business. I hope that people who use the Wi-Fi buy at least one drink. One may pay more than they have to at Starbucks for a drink, but it’s really the atmosphere they are paying for.
I hope Coffee Bean catches up with Starbucks. Although their Internet network is faster than Starbuck’s AT&T network, it is still too slow to be productive. Even though I like Coffee Bean better than Starbucks, the latter always gets my business. Let’s hope that Starbucks continues to succeed in providing excellent Wi-Fi and a fully satisfying customer experience.