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Free Wi-Fi at Starbucks starting in July

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Good news for everyone willing to pay $5.00 for a cup of coffee but not one cent for Wi-Fi hotspot access: Starbucks is finally lifting the registered customer-only restrictions on their in-store hotspot access starting next month. Let new construction of Starbucks offices begin!

Previously, there were only a handful of ways to get access at a Starbucks Wi-Fi hotspot, including service with T-Mobile or AT&T, two-hour access with a Starbucks card with activity once a month, or plunking down $3.99 for two hours of access. But in July, the process will be streamlined to a one-click system that gets anyone connected for free all out of the kindness of the Starbucks corporate heart… and an attempt to sell you more stuff. The free system is rolling out in U.S. company operated stores, so no lounging around franchise locations, like the one in my local Safeway, or international ones (sorry again, rest of the world).

Following the opening of their hotspot, a new online customer “experience” will be launched in the fall called the Starbucks Digital Network, in partnership with Yahoo! This experience will feature unique content for viewing and download, as well as local news. In addition, premium content, such as wsj.com, will be available for free, so instead of picking up a paper to read and then returning it, you’ll be able to read it on your phone, tablet or notebook.

Details at the Starbucks Newsroom. Hat tip to TechCrunch.

Alleged Apple fanboi, accused Android apologist, and confirmed Microsoft MVP for touch and tablet Mark Sumimoto a.k.a. Sumocat dabbles in all areas of mobile computing with a focus on Windows-based Tablet PCs and pen input. A mobile computing enthusiast since 2004, he pioneered the field of ink blogging via his personal blog, Sumocat's Scribbles. His current tools include a Fujitsu Lifebook T900, TEGA v2, and iPhone 4. Email: sumocat [at] notebooks.com

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