Starbucks to offer free Wi-Fi

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Many coffee shops try to discourage people from buying a cup of coffee and then lingering for hours to use the free Internet access. Starbucks will soon encourage them to stay as long as they want.

Starbucks says its customers will have free access to some paid Web sites, like Zagat, and previews of coming movies.

The company said on Monday that as of July 1, its stores in the United States would offer free Wi-Fi, via AT&T, that anyone can reach with a single click. In case customers run out of distractions on the Web, Starbucks is giving them even more reason to sit and browse, offering free online articles, music, videos and local information through a partnership with Yahoo.

Starbucks has been squeezed lately by competition from both independent specialty coffee shops, which have long offered free Wi-Fi, and big chains like McDonald’s, which added it this year.

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