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Published: Tuesday, 6/15/2010

Starbucks to switch to unlimited free Wi-Fi

CHICAGO — Starbucks Corp. will offer unlimited free wireless Internet access at all company-operated U.S. locations starting July 1.

The Wi-Fi access comes as Starbucks works to take business back from rivals such as McDonald's Corp. and independent cafes that long have offered free Internet.

The cafe chain, which this year recorded its first quarterly increase in customers in 13 quarters, previously had offered two free hours of Web access each day to registered customers.

The move occurs six months after McDonald's began offering free Wi-Fi at 11,500 U.S. locations.

The two firms have sparred in recent years as McDonald's revamped its coffee and rolled out a successful McCafe line with offerings that range from drip coffee and lattes to cappuccinos to icy coffee drinks.

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