Starbucks has set up an information portal accessible only via the free Wi-Fi hotspots in its U.S. coffee shops. The Starbucks Digital Network, created in partnership with Yahoo, will provide free online access to content including news stories that wouldn't normally be free, the company said Wednesday.

The network went live in nearly 6,800 U.S. Starbucks stores on Wednesday, featuring six content channels: news, entertainment, wellness, business & careers, my neighborhood and Starbucks.

Yahoo built the Starbucks Digital Network, and will manage and host it. The company will provide content from its Sports, Finance and News sites.

Starbucks Digital NetworkThe news channel will also give users free access to the New York Times Reader, WSJ.com and USA Today eEdition, according to Starbucks. The site includes optimized versions for a number of mobile devices, although the New York Times and USA Today clients are based on Adobe Air, which is currently not compatible with iPads and iPhones, Starbucks said in a FAQ.

Content in the other channels will include local restaurant reviews; music and videos via iTunes, and content from Rodale, which publishes lifestyle magazines including Men's Health, Prevention, Women's Health, Runner's World and Bicycling.

Social networking plays an important part in Starbucks Digital Network: users can access Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is one of the content partners, and there's a direct link to Foursquare allowing customers to "check in".

Related

The site can be accessed only from Starbucks stores. The site can be viewed using laptops, smartphones or tablets, and includes optimized versions for the iPhone, the iPod, Research In Motion's BlackBerry Bold 9700 and Tour 9630, and a number of unnamed Android-based devices, according to Starbucks.

Send news tips and comments to [email protected]