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5,000 UK pubs get free Wi-Fi... and they're not even all in London

Pleased as Punch

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Punch Taverns, operator of more than 5,000 tenanted and leased pubs in the UK, has signed with The Cloud to put free Wi-Fi in all of them in the hope of promoting a little lunchtime drinking.

That's drinking coffee and tea, as well as beer, but the chain reckons sales of everything increase once Wi-Fi is freely available as patrons realise the local pub is generally more welcoming than a Starbucks, and offers a pint or two when the work is done, or gets too much, as the case may be.

Some Punch Taverns already have Wi-Fi, and some of them are already free, but this deal promises free access for the next two years at least, though the content will be filtered and "family-friendly" - so no streaming moody videos to the stag party in the corner.

UK pubs have long offered a decent place for the weary road warrior, largely empty between mealtimes and generally with a power socket to be found lurking in a skirting, they're more congenial than the self-proclaimed "third space" provided by chains of coffee shops. The British pub has always been a third space, beyond work and home, but even those who frequent such establishments during the evening tend to eschew them during the day.

The Cloud reckons it's providing Wi-Fi to 9,000 UK pubs these days. The firm charges punters a tenner a month to use its public hotspots, but wireless access in its boozers is free.

Ideally, curmudgeons that we are, we'd prefer the UK's drinking holes to remain reasonably empty during the day - available for the exclusive use of the few in the know - but that's probably unsustainable and at least free Wi-Fi will make it a lot easier to look like you're in the office while in fact sinking another afternoon pint. ®

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