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Starbucks sets Wi-Fi free across the UK

Coffee specialist Starbucks has announced free Wi-Fi access across 650 UK shops, even as the word on the street is that the chains are getting sick of 'laptop squatters' nursing single Americanos and demanding access to power sockets.

The offer, which is a permanent fixture across the majority of the chain's UK outlets, doesn't require registration or redemption of a code. As a result, anyone visiting a Starbucks is immediately able to access the 'net from any web-capable device.

"From today," the company announced this morning, "all our customers can enjoy free Wi-Fi at hundreds of Starbucks locations throughout the UK. Just click 'Connect' and enjoy!"

Previously, many Starbucks franchisees offered paid-for Wi-Fi access in partnership with commercial hot-spot providers, but clearly the company is hoping increased sales will follow to compensate the loss of revenue from such schemes.

While welcome news, the announcement will be seen as slightly hypocritical by many: the company has been accused in the past of having a hard-line approach to those who buy a low-priced beverage in order to take advantage of Starbucks' comfy seats, Internet access and rarely-hidden power sockets as an on-the-go office.

Now that the chain offers totally free access - pursuant to purchase of product, naturally - it's likely to have a lot more of those cluttering up the joint.