Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Fiber is the fastest broadband Internet service ever created, with speeds up to 100 times faster than average. Yet, as Google builds this network, currently in three cities, there's no reason consumers should wait to take advantage of Google's Internet speeds. Already, the company is showing its superiority throughout the U.S., and consumers can enjoy it for free.

Starbucks lets consumers enjoy Google

Last year Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) announced a partnership with Google to provide its free WiFi in more than 7,000 of its U.S. stores. The company had been a longtime partner of AT&T (NYSE: T), but made the switch with promises to increase the speed of its WiFi by tenfold.

Sbux Coffee


While Starbucks and Google are still in the process of their 16-month program to replace AT&T with Google services, recent research shows that the speeds might be even better than expected. According to research from, which compared 650 Starbucks locations, Google's WiFi had up to 18 times faster download speeds and six times better upload speeds.

For many consumers, public WiFi locations are a popular area for studying, research, or for work purposes. This is especially true in rural areas of the country where public library and fast-speed Internet connections are limited. Historically, public WiFi has been significantly slower than at-home, due to the number of connections and the traditional use of lower powered DSL equipment.

But much like Google has done with its Fiber Internet service, the company is reinventing public WiFi, an enormous win for the consumer.

This is just the beginning

Now that Google has backed up its rather aggressive claims regarding speeds, the company might find its services in high demand among other popular public WiFi spots. Starbucks' chief digital officer, Adam Brotman, has said repeatedly that free WiFi is important for the business, as it enhances the in-store experience and leads to enhanced sales.

Therefore, Google's rather impressive upgrade could attract more consumers to Starbucks stores. Not to mention, Google claims Starbucks locations where Fiber is present -- currently Kansas City, Austin, and Provo, Utah -- WiFi services will be 100 times faster than AT&T's old service. As Fiber rolls-out into 34 additional metropolitan areas, such speeds give businesses an even greater incentive to make the switch.

Other than Starbucks, there are countless businesses known for their free WiFi, and are competitive with Starbucks for customers who wish to use the service. In the chart below, a few of these companies have been named, but keep in mind, there are far more.


# of Stores


35,000 + worldwide

Dunkin Donuts/Baskin-Robbins

18,000 + worldwide 

Panera Bread

1,818 in U.S.

Best Buy

1,056 in U.S.


25,000 + in the U.S.


1,800 + in the U.S.


2,000 + in North America

With that said, exact details on the compensation that Google receives per Starbucks store remains a mystery. But even if Google charges the same $70 a month as it does for Fiber, then 7,000 Starbucks stores becomes quite meaningful long term. Conversely, it's a large loss for AT&T, a company that's already invested in infrastructure to build a network for Starbucks stores.

Foolish thoughts

Starbucks is a big win for Google, and the consumer, but the more meaningful outcome could be if other large retailers and restaurants decide to make the switch to Google. While Google's service today clearly outperforms its peers, the expansion of Fiber will one day, soon, put Google's WiFi on a completely different level in terms of performance. For the consumer, there really are no negatives to faster free WiFi, but for competing businesses, this all but shows one more example of how Google is completely disrupting the Internet service arena.

Brian Nichols owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.