Over 150 Starbucks UK coffee shops now provide wireless Internet access, the company proudly announced yesterday.
But the ongoing deal with T-Mobile still leaves the java joints' customers paying a premium for the service.
Starbucks' most recent roll-out is its largest to date, adding hotspots to 98 sites, bringing the total to 154. Locations to gain WLANs in this latest expansion programme include shops in Canterbury, Inverness, Lincoln and Reading, the company said. A full list is available from Starbucks' web site, which fell over when we tried to use it this morning. Whoops.
The new sites have been added over the last few months, a T-Mobile spokesman said.
Starbucks began offering Wi-Fi hotspots in August 2002, not long after the British government opened up the 2.4GHz spectrum for commercial exploitation. A second roll-out in June 2003, took the total to 56 stores.
T-Mobile recently "simplified" its pricing strategy and introduced a new scheme to add Wi-Fi access costs to T-Mobile mobile phone customers' monthly bills.
UK pricing for the company's time-limited passes are now £5, £10 and £16.50 for one, three and 24 hours' access time, respectively. The mobile phone link bills access a rate of £1.50 per 15 minutes, which can work out to be considerably more expensive than the passes. ®