Pubs rolling out the barrels and the broadband ; Rural pubs are becoming a new hub for the digital revolution, as Trudi Davidson reports [Hull Daily Mail (England)]
(Hull Daily Mail (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) THEY may be the hub of the community but not all rural pubs are up to speed with the digital revolution.
Now, in a move which could see traditionalists choking on their beer, more pubs are getting connected to high-speed broadband and WiFi.
Hull-based telecoms company Quickline Communications is rolling out a free broadband connection and WiFi to rural pubs to raise awareness of high speed broadband - even in areas which were previously broadband "not spots".
The Brewers Arms at Snaith is among pubs recognising the value of having a high-speed broadband service for customers.
General manager Chrissie Smith says: "It's moving the way that coffee shops like Starbucks have, by having internet access for customers.
It's the way of the future.
"People are coming in with their laptops and they are doing business on their iPhones. They don't have to stay in the office, they are having a pint while they are doing their work, checking their e-mails or surfing the internet.
"We have a ten-bed hotel and the first thing people ask is 'have you got WiFi ' "It's crucial for business. Ninety nine per cent of people want WiFi, whether they are at home, at work or out and about, so we need it at the pub."
As part of its Connecting Communities campaign, wireless internet service provider Quickline is providing a free broadband connection and WiFi to rural pubs in East Yorkshire.
Gaynor Lawn, director of Quickline, says: "As a company we want to support rural life and a high-speed WiFi hotspot brings new opportunities to pubs, as local and passing businesspeople can be encouraged to meet up there.
"Villagers who work from home can visit the pub to catch up on their e-mails and search the internet while enjoying a drink or a bite to eat.
"We will be generating interest via a social media campaign and invite pub landlords or pub-goers to advertise their new, free WiFi service in this way."
Gaynor reveals it has been hard to convince some pubs the offer comes without strings attached.
She says: "This is a genuine offer to village pubs and so far, we have seen a very good response.
"Initially, people seemed to think it was too good to be true. It's not often you get a phone call offering a service free of charge, solely for the good of the community. Some pub landlords met us with suspicion, not believing we require nothing in return."
Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy is backing the company's QuickZONE campaign, which offers a broadband service with speeds up to 40mb.
Mr Percy says: "Quickline's campaign has been designed to raise awareness of their service as a true alternative to traditional broadband providers, a subject that is currently being discussed in Parliament. "I believe wireless broadband providers can work with traditional telecoms to help the Government achieve its target of 100 per cent broadband coverage by 2015.
"The wireless service is perfect for rural communities as it requires no digging up of roads, cabling nor telephone lines. I have been comparing the connection in my own rural home and find the speeds to be very fast indeed."
Seeing laptops in the bar may not be a welcome sight for some traditional pub goers but it's a sign of the times according to Stewart Campbell, branch spokesman for the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).
He says: "I am more of a traditionalist myself, I like going in quiet pubs and having a drink and a chat but while I might not be doing it, I am sure a lot of people would.
"I would not say pubs would become more like internet cafes but it's something that will help pubs. "If you are in a pub that has not got Sky Sports you might want to use the WiFi to keep up with football or cricket scores.
"Or, if you are in a pub and want to move on and have a look around the area you might want to use it to see what the local attractions are.
"I think it's a reasonable idea but if everyone was sat with a laptop it would be a bit too much."
High-speed service THE project QuickZONE is a high-speed broadband service with speeds up to 40Mb, which beams to a receiver on the roof and then to a WiFi device within the bar area.
Because this is a wireless broadband service, it can cover the rural areas fibre and cable based ISPs are unable to reach.
Pub owners or managers who would like a free broadband connection can e-mail email@example.com or contact them via Twitter @quicklineuk or visit Facebook.com/quicklinecomms
You might want to use the WiFi to keep up with football or cricket scores Stewart Campbell
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