Starbucks picks Compaq as supplier for wireless access

Starbucks Coffee Co. has selected Compaq Computer Corp. as the main hardware supplier for its project to deliver high-speed wireless LAN access to store customers.

Under a five-year agreement announced by the two companies yesterday, Compaq will provide iPaq handheld computers that Starbucks customers will be able to use by early next year to access broadband content and services from more than 70 percent of the company's stores worldwide.

Starbucks also selected Compaq as its preferred provider of enterprise class servers, storage products, desktops, notebooks and handheld computers.

"I think this is a partnership that will define for the consumer a new way to get access to the Internet," said Howard Schultz, Starbucks' chairman and chief global strategist.

The coffee shop chain's plans to serve up high-speed wireless LAN access to customers are part of a bid to increase traffic to its stores during off-peak, post-breakfast hours. To that end, Starbucks began a strategic relationship with Microsoft Corp. in January to create a high-speed, connected environment in Starbucks locations using MobileStar Network Corp.'s wireless broadband network.

At that time, the company had stated that it was in preliminary discussions with several laptop vendors to provide wireless LAN devices that customers could use in its stores.

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