Google To Roll Out WiFi Service At Select Starbucks

If not overnight, Google is about to establish a presence in 7,000 physical locations across the country.

Interrupting an existing deal with AT&T, Starbucks has agreed to let the search giant roll out a faster WiFi service in select locations over the next 18 months. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Albeit a major expansion, the Starbucks deal is only one piece of Google’s broader WiFi strategy, according to Kevin Lo, general manager of Google access. “Google has always invested in projects that help the Internet grow stronger,” Lo said.

Starbucks and Google are working together with Level 3 Communications, an international telecommunications company, to make the faster WiFi service a reality. The partners are promising WiFi of up to 10 times faster than normal network speeds. Level 3 is being tasked with upgrading existing WiFi devices, and managing in-store connectivity in roughly 7,000 Starbucks locations.

The partners declined to address the possibility of a broader rollout on Wednesday, but there is certainly room for expansion. Domestically, there are more than 13,000 Starbucks locations, and more than 20,000 locations worldwide.

Although no clear strategy has been articulated, Google appears determined to eventually offer competitive WiFi services nationwide. Last year, Google brought high-speed fiber-optic Web coverage to Kansas City, which boasted download speeds of up to 1 Gigabits per second.

More recently, the tech behemoth announced plans to offer free WiFi service to the New York City neighborhood of Chelsea -- also home to Google’s New York headquarters.

More broadly, over 60% of all Web-connected devices in North America send traffic through Google on a daily basis, according to recent findings from Deepfield.



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