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BT wins Starbucks Wi-Fi deal

iPhones and lattes, together at last

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BT will take over as Wi-Fi operator at Starbucks coffee shops in the UK and Ireland, with T-Mobile losing out on revenue from more than 650 hotspots.

Announcing the deal today, BT said it will begin to install service in some stores this week, with rollout scheduled to be completed by the end of summer. The deal is for five years.

T-Mobile has operated Starbucks hotspots for the last 6 years on a subscription or pay as you go basis.

A spokesman for the mobile firm told The Register it now intends to focus on improving its mobile broadband network. Wi-Fi will remain as a "complementary" service in high demand areas such as airports.

BT's Starbucks hotspots will form part of its Openzone network. BT's home broadband packages include bundled Openzone minutes.

An existing public Wi-Fi deal with O2 means iPhone users will also get access at Starbucks, at faster speeds than offered by 3G. From summer this year, O2 dongle subscribers will also get bundled Openzone access.

While mobile operator rivals have seen rapid growth in mobile data use from by smartphone and dongle owners, BT has sought to expand its Wi-Fi coverage.

Following a setback last year, when it failed to agree commercial terms to continue a deal with The Cloud, it controversially enabled all its business broadbands routers as Openzone hotspots via a software update. Businesses who did not want their bandwidth to form part of the network were required to opt out. ®

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