Starting this August, Google will be teaming up with Starbucks to roll out a faster Wi-Fi experience. Starbucks patrons will not only get a caffeine high, they'll get high WiFi speeds – up to 10x that of current speeds, according to Google's announcement. For those Starbucks in the Kansas City area, or other areas where Google Fiber is rolling out, speeds will be 100x faster.
Google will be partnering with Level 3 Communications, who has data centers and networking across a large range of American markets, to obtain the faster Internet connections. Level 3 will upgrade existing Wi-Fi hardware devices and provide the managed services for the new connections. Google will, over time, work with Starbucks to co-develop the next-generation Starbucks Digital Network.
Like most Google rollouts, the process will take time. The upgraded Wi-Fi networks will launch in over 7,000 company-owned U.S. Starbucks stores over the next 18 months. How will you know when your local Starbucks is upgraded? The SSID will read "Google Starbucks."
Currently, Starbucks utilizes T-1 connections which average 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps). This is slower than the national average of 7.2 Mbps. Google is aiming to increase speeds to the 15-20 Mbps range in Starbucks. In areas where they can leverage the Google Fiber networks, the speeds should be upwards near 1,000 Mbps. One could speculate that may include Mountain View and Manhattan locations.
Google has never been shy about its quest to raise Internet speeds and make access more widely available in the U.S. This project, which can reach so many people, will continue that trend.
"Google has always invested in projects that help the Internet grow stronger, including projects that make Internet access more affordable and more widely available," said Kevin Lo, the General Manager of Google Access. "We hope that speedier Internet will make the time customers spend at Starbucks even more enjoyable and productive."
It's estimated that 80 percent of the U.S. population lives within 20 miles of a Starbucks. Using spatial analytics, Fast Company suggests the furthest distance between any two Starbucks locations is no more than 140 miles.
From students to business people and everyone in between, customers flock to Starbucks for coffee and free Wi-Fi. After Hurricane Sandy, many who lost power and Internet connectivity flocked to Starbucks to do homework and stay connected to family and friends.
"We want to make sure that our customers can access the web effortlessly and quickly, no matter what they’re doing, or what device they are using," said Adam Brotman, chief digital officer, Starbucks. "Our goal is to continue to provide our customers with the best in-store experience possible, and we are excited to offer these kinds of unparalleled experiences at a broad scale."
Are you a Starbucks Internet user? Will this news make you more or less inclined to use Starbucks for Internet services when you're on the go?