August 1, 2013 -- People who have claimed Starbucks as their home away from home may soon find that their phones and tablets are accessing the Internet faster following a Wi-Fi upgrade from Google and Level 3 Communications
Linda Mills, a spokesperson for Starbucks, said that the company evaluated a number of offers before making the upgrade deal. "We're looking ahead 2-3 years and predicting the need for more bandwidth and faster speeds," she told ABC News. "For Starbucks, it's about making sure that we're providing the best experience possible to meet [customers'] needs."
Quicker Wi-Fi may arrive sooner for some Starbucks customers. "The new Wi-Fi is starting this month in brand new Starbucks stores," said Mills. After those stores get the upgrade, locations with high traffic and demand for data will be next in line.
Anthony Christie, the chief marketing officer at Level 3 Communications, said that the company will upgrade the over 7,000 different Starbucks stores with new routing equipment and high bandwidth connectivity. "These stores are going to be completely refitted," he told ABC News. "Level 3 is making connectivity up to ten times faster."
AT&T, Starbucks' previous partner in providing complimentary wireless, also proposed a faster Wi-Fi proposal to Starbucks. Fletcher Cook, a spokesperson for AT&T, told ABC News, "[We] also offered up to 10 times faster network and Wi-Fi speeds, so the decision must have been based on criteria other than speed."
While Wi-Fi is out of AT&T's future with Starbucks, they will still be involved with the coffeeshop. "We continue to provide [Starbucks] with a variety of mobile and wireline IP broadband services over AT&T's networks," said Fletcher.
In addition to improving Starbucks's Wi-Fi, Google will also work with Starbucks on developing the next iteration of the Starbucks Digital Network to help provide "fascinating and free Internet content" for the store. Kevin Lo, the general manager of Google Access, sees the partnership with Starbucks as a way to strengthen the Internet itself by making it faster and more widely available.
"We hope that speedier Internet will make the time customers spend at Starbucks even more enjoyable and productive," he said in a statement.