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Advertising Age reports that the trend toward offering wireless Internet access (Wi-FI) in retail locations has taken an interesting turn, with a Spanish company called Fons trying to poach on Starbucks’ well-established network of T-Mobile hot spots in its almost 5,000 stores.

The difference is that it costs more money to access the Internet using the T-Mobile system, either via subscription or on a $10 per day basis. Fons is a $2-per-day service, and it has given out some 6,800 wireless routers in part by promoting itself to businesses that are adjacent to Starbucks locations and therefore able, at least theoretically, to poach some of Starbucks’ T-Mobile users. The goal is to eventually gain greater profits by being able to advertise to wireless Internet users via the Fons home page.

One other note: according to Ad Age, “T-Mobile's Starbucks contract runs out in 2009, and Fons execs have talked to Starbucks about moving inside.”
KC's View:
While we hold Starbucks in great esteem, this is one area where we differ – we think that free Wi-Fi eventually is where every retail outlet will be, simply because that is what customers will expect.