Three years ago when I wrote about technology at Starbucks I cited it was innovative to do a deal back in 2002 with T-Mobile offering Wi-Fi in its stores. But when I wrote it in 2005 wi-fi in coffee shops was already mainstream - still I signed up a 12 month plan with T-Mobile. And suffered through the premium add-ons when I traveled overseas. But as many airports and hotels had started to offer free wi-fi, and my PDA covered basic mail and web needs, I canceled my subscription. I had hoped T-Mobile would offer alternative laptop plans besides its no-annual contract $ 39.99 a month or day passes for $ 9.99. But it did not relent and I have since used Wi-Fi from Boingo and others.
Well, after today, T-Mobile just may have to be far more competitive. Starbucks has announced plans to tie up with AT&T instead. Two things I like about the new arrangement. You can pay for a "drink at a time" at $ 3.99 for a 2 hour session or you can sign up on a monthly plan for $ 19.99. The sweetener - the monthly plan covers you across the globe.
Before you get too excited about global coverage though, last time I checked AT&T offered 2 total hotspots in all of Argentina and 3 in all of India. None in one of the most wired pieces of real estate in the world - Estonia.
But at least in the US, the monthly plan price point is an improvement. Or at least more reflective of an offering which is no longer an innovation.