The Case of the Vanishing Starbucks Hotspots

I from home now. And, I’m too cheap (poor) to buy EVDO or HSDPA service for my notebooks since I can get WiFi service at most of the places I go to when running around. Or, so I thought… One of the places I depend on for broadband connectivity is Starbucks. It is air conditioned in the summer, dry (enclosed) in the winter, and I’m hooked on the blended lemonade and Vivanno there. However, I’ve been noticing more and more problems getting WiFi connectivity at Starbucks over the past few weeks. And, this week, the three Starbucks near my home all completely lost their WiFi as far as I can tell. I don’t see any SSID for either AT&T Wireless or T-Mobile. I spoke to employees at all three locations. Employees at two locations had not heard of any problems although they were aware of the changeover of equipment and management from T-Mobile to AT&T Wireless. The person at the third Starbucks had heard complaints from other customers about not getting WiFi there. I called T-Mobile Hotspot customer support after checking two Starbucks locations this afternoon. I carried two devices, an Acer Aspire One netbook and a T-Mobile Dash Windows Mobile smartphone, to test at both locations. Both devices saw SSIDs for various WiFi Access Points (WAPs). But, neither saw a T-Mobile or AT&T Wireless SSID. The T-Mobile HotSpot phone tech support person told me that the network status indicator he was looking at said all three hotspots were up. He suggested that I call the support number from the Starbucks location with the problem the next time I run into it. The T-Mobile US HotSpot support number is: 877.822.7768.

James Kendrick, of JkOnTheRun.com, note similar issues earlier this month in his blog item: Is Starbucks WiFi having problems? So, I know (a) I’m not the only one seeing this problem and (b) the problem is not localized to where I live.