Starbucks Corp. is aiming to let its customers get wireless Internet access while they get wired on the chains premium coffee.
The Seattle-based coffee giant on Wednesday announced that the company has set up wireless LANs in 1,200 of its retail coffee shops and plans to have 2,000 cafes wirelessly hooked up by the end of the year.
The Starbucks WLANs are operated by T-Mobile, formerly VoiceStream Wireless, which is the wireless division of Deutsche Telekom AG.
T-Mobiles HotSpot service uses “Wi-Fi,” or 802.11b, technology, which offers speeds of up to 11M bps, backed by a T-1 connection.
VoiceStream bought its HotSpot assets from MobileStar Network Corp. last November, after MobileStar went bankrupt.
The HotSpot service is available on a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go basis. Starbucks is offering free trials of the service on Wednesday to customers with Wi-Fi enabled notebook computers or Pocket PC devices.
Hewlett-Packard Co., already a partner of Starbucks, is offering free software that lets wireless devices and notebooks sniff out and connect to available networks.
The software is available at www.starbucks.com/hotspot, where HP also will be selling and leasing wireless client-side devices, including PC cards, notebook computers and Pocket PCs.