ATandT Begins Starbucks Wi-Fi Rollout

San Antonio is getting a first taste of Starbucks' new Wi-Fi brew-up to 2 hours free.

AT&T and Starbucks plan to start offering their joint Wi-Fi service May 1 in San Antonio, the corporate headquarters of AT&T. By the end of 2008, AT&T said it would be offering Wi-Fi at all company-operated Starbucks stores.

After a six-year run with T-Mobile providing fee-based Wi-Fi access in its 7,000 coffee shops, Starbucks announced in February that AT&T would be its new carrier for wireless service. The ubiquitous chain is also brewing up a new deal for Wi-Fi customers: up to 2 hours of free Wi-Fi service per day.

In addition, all Starbucks partners will receive free Wi-Fi accounts allowing them to use the network in Starbucks company-operated locations. AT&T said more than 12 million qualifying AT&T broadband and AT&T U-verse Internet customers will have unlimited free access to Starbucks' Wi-Fi service.

"Expanding our reach across company-operated Starbucks locations nationwide helps us bridge the gap between our wired and wireless offerings," AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said in an April 25 statement.

Click here to read about the possibility of VOIP (voice over IP) apps for the iPhone over Wi-Fi.

As of May 1, qualifying AT&T customers will be able to connect to the Internet from Starbucks locations by selecting "ATTWiFi" after powering up their computers. Free AT&T Wi-Fi service is currently offered with AT&T's three higher-speed residential broadband packages, all small business broadband packages and all AT&T U-verseofferings with high-speed Internet service.

Chris Bruzzo, Starbucks' chief technology officer, said in the same statement, "We continue to build on the experience we know our customers expect from us. By partnering with AT&T as our U.S. Wi-Fi provider we aim to deliver a better value, greater convenience and seamless connectivity in a mobility-centric world to our customers."