Top Coffee Shops in America With Wi-Fi Access

What is it about college students and telecommuters? If you follow them they most assuredly will lead the way to a local coffee shop with Wi-Fi access, which is usually free. There seems to be something about coffee shops that make one’s mobile experience just that much better. Could it be that coffee and computer work goes hand in hand?

Before we go any further, I do want to point out the fact that there IS a distinct difference between free and paid Wi-Fi services. You know the adage, “you get what you paid for?”

Well, the same is true for wireless internet services. Free usually means weak signal and slow pathetically upload and download times. Going the paid route is an excellent option. You can pay as you go or subscribe to hot-spot service providers to use as needed.

Thousands of establishments utilize AT&T as their hotspot provider. As of 2009 AT&T offered customers Wi-Fi access through any one of it’s over 20,000 hotspots. That’s a lot of hotspots!

Combined with the number of coffee shops, pancake houses, book stores and printing shops offering Wi-Fi, whether free or paid, is in the hundreds of thousands. Amazing, especially considering the relatively young age of the technology. Did you know that wireless internet service was invented in 1992 by Australian scientists?

But wait; do you know who America’s largest provider of Wi-Fi is? McDonald’s – and they offer it for free! McDonald’s offers 11,000 locations. Want to venture to guess the service provider? Yep, you guessed it: AT&T.

Recently, Starbucks took a note from the pages of McDonald’s success and started offering their Wi-Fi access for free. Not only that, but they also took off the 2-hour time limit users balked at for quite some time. Other coffee shops quickly followed suit. The following is a list of a few national coffee shops offering free Wi-Fi services, with the customary minimal purchase, of course. (Even if you do not need anything, making a customary purchase is just polite, considering the space and resources you are taking. Purchasing a bottle of water and taking it with you is just one suggestion.)

McDonald’s
Cost: Free
Provider: AT&T
Setup: No Account Needed

Starbucks
Cost: Free
Provider: AT&T
Setup: No Account Needed

Barnes and Noble
Cost: Free
Provider: AT&T
Setup: No Account Needed

Borders
Cost: Free
Provider: Verizon
Setup: Account Needed

Panera Bread
Cost: Free
Provider: Unsure
Setup: Unsure