T-Mobile Unhappy With Starbucks Wi-Fi Switch

    June 9, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

The coffeehouse chain’s switch to AT&T to offer free wireless Internet to customers received a shot of criticism and a lawsuit from former partner T-Mobile.

Wireless carrier T-Mobile found itself tossed out of the land of baristas and lattes in favor of AT&T. The new deal brought about a much faster switch to AT&T than T-Mobile wanted to see.

T-Mobile contended in a new suit cited by Reuters that AT&T swooped in too soon to scoop up the goodies and serve Starbucks’ customers. The carrier alleged AT&T and Starbucks kicked up the pace of the switchover by taking advantage of the infrastructure T-Mobile put in place.

AT&T service in Starbucks was not supposed to begin in a market until all the stores in the market received the technology change away from T-Mobile’s network. An agreement in February between all three companies on the switchover gave T-Mobile the right to keep selling services in Starbucks until such market changes took place.

Starbucks defended the early change, saying in the report they sought to ensure the availability of Wi-Fi in its stores for customers.

The appeal of wireless access to Starbucks and other service-oriented businesses hinges on the increasingly mobility of segments of the workforce. Mobile workers like salespeople spend little time in offices, and benefit from being able to connect and work from remote places.

Some enlightened employers found that permitting a remote option for workers who customarily come into an office proved useful, not only in productivity but in terms of quality of life. If a Starbucks or similarly Wi-Fi equipped business presents a shorter commute for someone, that’s an additional perk as gas prices continue their uncontrollable rise.