Starbucks dumps AT&T as their Wi-Fi provider and trusts Google to provide their wireless internet for more than 7,000 US stores. More at Forbes.
From the original Press Release at Starbucks:
“Starbucks today announced the selection of Google to provide the next generation of its Wi-Fi offering for its customers.
This is a decent sized hit to AT&T, who wasn’t mentioned in the Starbucks Press Release distributed today. Google will be treading on fairly new territory with this offering, but providing Wi-Fi for this many wireless users puts Google exactly where they want to be in terms of increasing advertisement revenue, which has been the bulk of Google’s earnings and their major focus since the beginning.
But how can Google, a major player in online advertising but small fish in terms of providing internet service, provide that much connectivity spanned across the nation? While Google has spent money here and there eating up “Dark Fiber”, a term for laid fiber (fibre) which isn’t in use, they certainly haven’t covered enough ground to suddenly replace what’s already. And while they do offer a fiber service in specific markets like Kansas City, their established ISP channel is a proof-of-concept at best. Enter Level3 Communications. Also from the Starbucks Press Release:
“Starbucks and Google will work with Level 3 Communications, an international telecommunications company, to bring faster Wi-Fi connectivity to Starbucks® stores. Level 3 will upgrade existing Wi-Fi devices and will manage in-store connectivity in more than 7,000 company-owned stores across the nation.”
It’s with Level3 Communications that the Google partnership with America’s coffee choice becomes possible. Level3 will certainly take the bulk of the responsibility in terms of hardware supply and infrastructure needed to offer the increased Wi-Fi speeds, reported to be up to “10 times faster.” Level3 will play the unsung hero in this endeavor, which fits them rather well. While you may know Level3 from a business perspective, they certainly aren’t a household name such as Comcast or AT&T. This is because their sales channels don’t hit households. Instead, Level3 focuses on indirect markets, wholesale markets, the federal market, and sales on an enterprise level.
For Starbucks goers, the opportunity for faster internet couldn’t come… faster. The rollout will begin as early as August of this year but could take as long as 18 months for it to hit a store near you.
Disclosure: I have a very meager portion of stock in Google.