13 June 2019
Set just outside the market town of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, the Countryman Pub and Dining suffered from poor broadband and Wi-Fi.
It was served by a 4mbps line which achieved 3mbps at best and Wi-Fi used a low-cost retail router.
As well as poor internet access, mobile coverage was affected by the fact that the Countryman is in a dip and slightly out of town. In addition to improved broadband the owners wanted to make Wi-Fi available throughout and a captive portal for guest Wi-Fi.
They called in Paul Pitchford, trading as Ashfield IT, based just three miles away in Sutton-in-Ashfield.
Mr Pitchford reports that he found a suitable broadband provider, negotiated free installation that included civil works and connection from the road with speeds up to 350mbps, multiple static IP addresses and transfer of the phone line.
He chose equipment from the Ubiquiti Unifi range.
It comprises three access points, a managed network switch and Unifi gateway along with a cloud controller giving Ashfield IT and the Countryman management control over the Wi-Fi, both internally and remotely. And statistics about the devices and network traffic enable both to see how the network is performing.
As well as a guest Wi-Fi portal, Mr Pitchford set up a private network for staff and bar equipment to segregate the devices on the two different networks to ensure security.
The guest Wi-Fi uses a captive portal from an Edinburgh company BlackBX.
To gain access, clients are asked to provide a small amount of information about themselves including an email address.
GDPR compliant, when users access Wi-Fi they are presented with a log in page where the Countryman specifies the type of information it would like to capture.
It includes an image of the pub and logo to confirm to users that they are safely connected. Mr Pitchford said one of the great features is that it remembers the device and the user.
Therefore, the next time that client visits the venue, it automatically logs them back in, meaning that they do not have to repeat the process and that statistics are captured about the clients’ visits.
It can also: email someone 60 minutes after their first visit to thank them for trying the venue; email a birthday invitation to visit the restaurant; notify those on the list about a forthcoming event; and target clients who have not recently visited.