Today AT&T officially rolled out part of their free WiFi strategy in partnership with Starbucks.
If you have a Starbucks card registered, you can use it to get an AT&T WiFi login and password good for two free hours of WiFi every day. The catch? You must use the card at least once each month, and AT&T sends you four promotional emails a year.
In my opinion that’s a fairly minimal catch. After all, if you didn’t hit Starbucks at least once a month you probably wouldn’t have a card in the first place. And given the amount of “promotional” (*cough* SPAM *cough*) email one receives, four more in a year is trivial. In exchange for that, two hours of free WiFi a day — available at over 7,000 hot spots — is a great deal to me. I didn’t hesitate to sign up.
In my case I had already registered my card (so it always stay “charged” and I get free drip refills). Getting free WiFi is just one more advantage to registering.
I signed up for my WiFi account today and tested it out with the iPhone. It worked great.
I think this is a smart move on both AT&T’s and Starbucks’ parts. However, there are reports of heavy use bogging down the authentication servers. While I didn’t see that today, if true, AT&T/Starbucks better get it addressed soon if they don’t want a revolution on their hands.
Meanwhile, if you’re too cool, hip, and trendy to set foot in a Starbucks, or are a coffee snob, or just don’t want to admit liking the place, worry not. Talk is that AT&T will make a similar deal for all their smartphone data plan users. So get an iPhone (or one of those other, lesser smartphones) and just sit outside a Starbucks to tap their signal. Whatever works for you.