Friday, June 20, 2008

Free WiFi at Starbucks

I'm making my first Starbucks stop since returning to the USA. While I was living in Asia, Starbucks switched their WiFi provider from T-Mobile to AT&T. T-Mobile was crazy expensive. The new deal with AT&T is pretty good. You just have to get a Starbucks card for as little as $5 and register online. You then get 2 hours of free WiFi access per day for the next 30 days. You don't pay for the access. You just have to put a minum of $5 on your card every 30 days. If you hang out at Starbucks, I can't imagine you would be spend less than $5 in 30 days.

After living in Vietnam, this seems very American to me. In Vietnam, the WiFi is just free. Sure, the speeds suck but the hassle is minimum. Most cafes don't make you register at all. (Highlands Coffee in Saigon Centre used to make you register, but they seem to have given this up.) Leave it to an American to make a complex system like this.

I am amazed that in my first 5 days back, I now have three AT&T accounts. One for my mobile phone, one for my home phone and DSL, and now one for my Starbucks WiFi.

I did notice that Starbucks seems to be running both AT&T and T-Mobile hotspots. At least all those suckers who signed up for the tres cher T-Mobile accounts can keep using them at Starbucks, for now.