December 28, 2004, 12:00 AM

For coffee and tea chain, it’s now coffee, tea and wi-fi

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is rolling out wireless fidelity Internet access in 144 locations in California, Nevada and Arizona, as it joins the ranks of coffee shops and other merchants who see wi-fi as a way to lure customers.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is rolling out wireless fidelity Internet access in 144 locations in California, Nevada and Arizona, as it joins the ranks of coffee shops and other merchants who see wi-fi as a way to lure customers.

“We are eager to offer our customers this service,” says Lisa Steinkamp, director of marketing. “This is a natural extension of the comfort zone we’ve created in our stores.”

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is deploying SBC Communications Inc.’s FreedomLink Wi-Fi service, which will be available in some locations this month and in 144 of 300 locations early next year, Steinkamp says. Wi-fi, or wireless fidelity, extends high-speed land-line Internet access for about 300 feet, making up the wi-fi hot spot where people with wi-fi-enabled computers can access the web without plugging a wire into a phone line.

Visitors to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf locations who want to access the web using the wi-fi service must pay either $19.95 per month for unlimited access at all SBC wi-fi hot spots, or $3.95 for two hours of access. SBC is offering free wi-fi access until April 15, 2005, to Coffee Bean & Teal Leaf customers who already subscribe to SBC’s DSL broadband web access; after April 15, SBC will charge its DSL subscribers an additional $1.99 per month for the wi-fi access.

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf will share in SBC’s wi-fi access fees, an SBC spokeswoman says. Fee-sharing terms weren’t disclosed.

SBC currently provides wi-fi to more than 5,000 locations, including Barnes & Noble book stores, UPS Stores and McDonald’s restaurants. SBC expects to offer wi-fi in more than 20,000 locations by the end of 2006, a spokeswoman says.

 

 

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