by Joe Wallace
Thursday is the day Starbucks changes the game plan from its old “two hours of free wi-fi as long as you use your Starbucks card” concept to the new free-for-all unlimited wi-fi access plan. Freelancers tired of jostling for position in other crowded coffee shops, Panera Bread and other locations now have unlimited access at Starbucks…and those living nearby a Starbucks will likely reap the benefits, too.
The full details of the new free wi-fi access include the following excellent features–NO login, NO time limit, and no requirement to use a Starbucks card to access.
You might think I sound like a Starbucks shill at this point, but that’s not the reason I am excited by this development. For years, companies and local governments have paid varying degrees of lip service to the idea that wi-fi access could and should be free for all. If memory serves, Portland is one city that had designs on a city-run free wi-fi program, and Chicago has often flirted with the concept (usually during election years).
The Starbucks move is a step closer to the reality of convenient, cost-free access, and speaking as an uber-mobile freelancer myself, I welcome the new option even if I don’t drink the coffee. They WILL lure me in for a cup of Tazo Earl Grey, but the main attraction is that free wireless access. Thanks to Starbucks, one of my major logistical problems is solved.
I run a blog about vinyl records and indie record stores called Turntabling.net. In August I will blog across the country from Chicago to New York City, hitting record stores along the way to blog about, review, etc.It’s called Vinyl Road Rage and last year garnered a bit of nice viral attention so it’s back again this year.
Since the iPhone operating system I currently use doesn’t officially support tethering (so I can use the iPhone 3G wireless signal to connect my laptop) I need an alternative to post detailed blog entries. Now, thanks to Starbucks, there’s a solution at practically every corner.
This is extremely forward-thinking for a major corporation, and I applaud them for going the extra mile. It will make my August Vinyl Road Rage trip as awesome as it could possibly be.
I personally will be at Starbucks on Thursday in Chicago’s Lincoln Square district to celebrate and blog about the new wi-fi-volution. I know this is extremely nerdy of me, but it’s an excellent thing Starbucks is doing and I aim to support it. Join me!