High Street shoppers in Scotland are being offered wireless internet access in the latest technology drive.
Coffee and the wireless web, please
Starbucks, the coffee chain, has set up wi-fi hotspots at seven of its branches, enabling customers with a wireless card in their laptop to surf the net without wires.
Other hotspots are available at Hilton hotels in Glasgow and Edinburgh provided by BT Openzone.
Analysts expect wi-fi services to take-off, with sales of the wireless cards needed to hook up to the network growing worldwide from 6.5m in 2001 to 31.2m by 2006.
Starbucks has teamed up with T-Mobile to offer 50 times faster internet access than standard dial-up access.
Three stores in Glasgow, three in Edinburgh and one in Aberdeen have hotspots to enable customers to have a coffee and use their laptops.
Users need a wi-fi or 802.11b wireless capability for their laptop computer.
Some laptops are wi-fi enabled but also require a wi-fi wireless card which costs about £50.
Four pre-pay tariffs are available to customers, from an hourly to a monthly pass.
The stores offering wi-fi capability are:
- Aberdeen Union Street
- Edinburgh Exchange Crescent, Forrest Road and Princes Street
- Glasgow Princes Square, Bothwell Street and Charing Cross.
Cathy Heseltine, Starbucks marketing director, said she was confident the hot-spots would prove popular with customers.
She said: "We are delighted to offer our customers in Scotland another great enhancement to their Starbuck's experience."
Analysts believe wi-fi demand will rocket
Starbucks said during pilot schemes in Birmingham and London it did not find customers had spilled coffee on laptops.
Graham Rivers, T-Mobile UK director, said the launch was designed to offer internet users a faster and more efficient service.
Customers could quickly check e-mails or browse the internet without having to dash back to the office, he added.
The two Hilton hotels in Glasgow and two in Edinburgh offer wi-fi capability, as does Glasgow Moat House.