Google (News - Alert) has promised faster Wi-Fi for Starbucks coffee house patrons, but the increase may become the norm by the time the company’s update is finished in late 2014, according to industry experts. In securing the Starbucks contract earlier this month, Google will update each store’s Wi-Fi service, reportedly supporting speeds 10 times faster than Starbucks' existing Wi-Fi.
"Telecom companies are always, always vying for more speed," said Chris Watson of Everspark Interactive. "While 10 times faster sounds like a lot, Google is promising speeds 100 times faster to its fiber optic customers."
Starbucks plans to continue to offer the Google Wi-Fi for free. The changeover will begin next month and will take about 18 months to complete at more than 7,000 Starbucks locations around the United States.
Starbucks stores currently are connected with a T1 line for 1.5 megabit speeds. Google plans to upgrade the system in every location to provide approximately 10 times faster speeds, though the actual result will vary from store to store.
"When you start getting to really, really fast speeds, it's difficult to put it in the same way everywhere," said Adam Brotman, Starbucks chief digital officer. "Instead of finding one common denominator, we're saying, no, let's upgrade everything. It some case, it will be faster than 10-times, sometimes slower."
Google isn’t the only one looking to deliver higher Wi-Fi speeds. AT&T (News - Alert), which previously held the Starbucks Wi-Fi contract, also promised to increase speeds by a factor of 10. While that sounds like a lot, Watson says tech firms already have connection speeds at that level.
The trend toward faster Wi-Fi speed means changes are coming for applications as well. "Think of everything that was impossible in 2005, that's commonplace with today's speeds," Watson said. "Faster speeds enable applications that can't even be imagined today."
Edited by Rory J. Thompson