Starbucks Unwired

The coffee chain has been serving up wireless Web access at its stores for more than a year now. So why aren't more people using it?

On a recent Sunday afternoon, the Starbucks coffee shop at Piper's Alley in Chicago's Old Town was packed with twentysomethings talking on cell phones, poring over books and newspapers or just dozing off in the store's soft, overstuffed armchairs. At a tiny table next to the window, Trevor Ulbrick, a law student at Northwestern University, tapped away on his Apple PowerBook while listening to a CD through big, cushy headphones that practically enveloped his head.

Ulbrick, 28, wasn't there for the frothy $3 lattes or even the shop's mellow atmosphere. He came for the high-speed wireless Internet access--and he's willing...

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