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Starbucks switches to Google Wi-Fi to provide faster Internet to customers

Starbucks is giving customers more reasons to spend time in-store by getting rid of its current AT&T Wi-Fi and partnering with Google to offer in-store Wi-Fi at up to ten times faster speeds.

The Seattle-based coffee shop chain will be rolling out the new Wi-Fi system over the next 18 months to more than 7,000 United States stores. Any new U.S. company-operated Starbucks stores will automatically receive the new Wi-Fi system.

“Since Google is promising 10x the speed from what was offered previously with the AT&T relationship, this not only will ensure that consumers are able to conduct business while at their locations, but it could also drive further business for Google wireless if the service proves to be better than what was previously in place,” said Marci Troutman, CEO of SiteMinis, Atlanta..

“With Google promising faster speeds, and the ability to implement the Wi-Fi across 7,000 locations in just 18 months time, there could be less breakage and more consumers stopping into Starbucks to get online and conduct business,” she said.

Ms. Troutman is not affiliated with Starbucks. She commented based on her expertise on the subject.

Starbucks did not respond to press inquiries.

Google Wi-Fi
Many Starbucks customers use the stores as almost an office, grabbing a table and taking advantage of the store’s free Wi-Fi.

By offering a faster and improved Wi-Fi experience, Starbucks is telling its customers that it cares about their in-store experience even beyond their actual purchases. This, in turn, creates a great brand name for the company.

In return, the company ensures that there will be increased traffic in-store and a constant presence of customers working on laptops. Since these customers may be sitting in the store for a while, they may be more likely to make multiple purchases at that store.

Google and Starbucks will work with Level 3 Communications, an international telecommunications company, to bring the Wi-Fi system to Starbucks stores.

According to Level 3, Starbucks customers will have access to the fastest free connection available in any retail environment.

In addition to providing Wi-Fi, Google will also be working with Starbucks to create the next-generation Starbucks Digital Network.

Mobile coffee
Starbucks has proven that it understands the importance of mobile initiatives in the world of coffee.

In the third-quarter 2013, 10 percent of Starbucks in-store United States sales stemmed from mobile payments, and the amount of money loaded on mobile cards saw almost 100 percent growth YOY (see story).

Starbucks has also rolled out rich media advertising campaigns, such as the one in Us Magazine’s mobile site (see story).

The company is not satisfied with just smartphone initiatives either. Starbucks also leverages SMS and MMS marketing to engage consumers (see story).

This partnership with Google is merely the next step in Starbucks’ mobile efforts.

“There are quite a few consumers that go into Starbucks to conduct meetings and/or complete work,” Ms. Troutman said.

“With this in mind, Starbucks is smart to ensure that their Wi-Fi is strong in order to keep these consumers continuing to come and conduct their business at Starbucks,” she said.

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York