Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, February 11, 2021

After six years of rolling with T-Mobile’s HotSpot to power in-store wi-fi Web access, Starbucks has gone another way with an agreement to go with AT&T to provide a mix of free (with purchase) and paid wireless hook-ups, starting this Spring.

My initial reaction to this was “Sonofabitch!” — not because I’m a big T-Mobile fan, but because I landed a free yearlong subscription to HotSpot as part of the One Laptop Per Child donation program. So seemingly, I get screwed by this switcheroo.

But then I read the fine print:

Current T-Mobile HotSpot customers, who pay from $6 per hour-long session to $9.99 for a day pass to $39.99 a month for unlimited access, will get Wi-Fi access at no extra charge through an agreement between AT&T and T-Mobile.

So hoo-ray, I don’t get cut off, at least not until early next year. Which is good, because I’ve actually come to rely upon pitstops at random Starbucks outlets for quick checks of email and other info via my iPod Touch. Yes, T-Mobile has other HotSpot partners, but they’re nowhere near as widespread in Manhattan as Starbucks (which is why this development is a real problem for T-Mobile).

Theoretically, I shouldn’t be so dependent on the HotSpot link, given that there’s a big free wi-fi cloud over midtown called CBS Mobile Zone, which I was jazzed about upon announcement. But to date, I’ve never been able to connect to it. It’s definitely there — it comes up as an available wireless client when my iTouch is scanning an area, and I’ve seen ads promoting it. But until I’m able to actually use it, it might as well not be there.

So for the time being, I continue to be on the lookout for Starbucks shops. They’ll get my money, by design — the incidental purchase of a tea and cookie is part of the trap. But I like to stick it to the man half the time by just camping out outside the store and surreptitiously calling up the HotSpot login page.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/11/2021 06:20:19 PM
Category: Wi-Fi, Business, New Yorkin'
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2 Feedbacks »
  1. Sonofabitch! They are going to cut us T-Mobile customers off! ATT would never keep free access for long…

    Comment by josh lanksi — 02/11/2021 @ 07:42:15 PM

  2. I don’t know all the details, but I wouldn’t worry about getting cut off in the near future. It’s in AT&T’s interests to keep existing HotSpot customers onboard, because that gives AT&T an extended period during which they can show them how much better they are than T-Mobile, and sell them on switching over eventually (looking at it from AT&T’s perspective, I’m not favoring anyone). If I had to guess, HotSpot subscribers are probably safe into mid-2009.

    Comment by CT — 02/11/2021 @ 08:43:09 PM

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