Case Studies | 10 February 2015 - by KCOM

Hull Truck Theatre wows delegates and audiences with superfast WiFi capabilities

Please introduce yourself and your business

I’m Ruth Puckering, Head of Communications for Hull Truck Theatre, one of the UK’s leading regional theatres and a vibrant and creative centre at the heart of the city of Hull.

Why did you have superfast WiFi installed?

We were intending to install superfast WiFi as part of our planned IT systems upgrade in preparation for City of Culture 2017 status and to establish Hull Truck Theatre as a cultural hub for the region.

However, when Hull Truck Theatre became the host venue for the Digital Utopias Conference, partnering with Google and Arts Council England, we had to act very quickly. It was essential that our systems could demonstrate the technologies that were on display and cope with the volume of online interaction.

KCOM was a key sponsor of the Digital Utopias Conference and provided its WiFi service to support over 500 delegates online at the same time, wherever they were within the conference venue.

We were very impressed. KCOM's superfast WiFi service delivered peak speeds of a massive 70Mbps (megabits per second) and supported 80GB of data downloaded from 358 connected devices.

In fact, during the day one of the presenter’s memory sticks broke in the middle of his presentation and his slides wouldn’t work. But thanks to the superfast WiFi service, he simply connected to his laptop at home in Germany, pulled up the presentation and continued with his session within seconds – the audience was wowed!

Quite simply, our old broadband would have crumbled under the pressure of such a conference and with such a number of influential visitors, this would have reflected badly on both Hull Truck Theatre and Hull as the next City of Culture.

The event demonstrated to us how access to superfast WiFi is essential to enable visitors and delegates to get fully involved and engaged in events and conferences.

What have been the main benefits of superfast WiFi?

The speed of the WiFi connection is amazing. Capacity and speed were crucial for the Digital Utopias Conference, but they’re also vital for us to be equipped to cope with the pattern of WiFi usage in the theatre for every performance. Traffic can go from 0 to 400 users in the space of one hour as audiences arrive for a show.

Our WiFi is now far more efficient and resilient, plus we’re gaining sustainability benefits through minimizing the hardware in the building and using KCOM’s management service.

We have just one fibre connection and everything else is managed and upgraded off-site, meaning that it will keep pace with future developments and innovation.

What are the advantages to Hull Truck of working in partnership with KCOM?

We are delighted to be forging a really strong partnership with KCOM and being able to make use of the cutting-edge technology they’ve provided. We are two well-established brands within the city working together to connect our separate customers.

But upgrading our infrastructure was a big commitment and it was important for us to get it right. KCOM was extremely professional, helpful and knowledgeable throughout the process

As we gear up for Hull 2017, the new, exceptional WiFi capabilities and Lightstream broadband connections will make the theatre a state-of-the art venue for audiences, businesses and visitors.

What are the benefits of the WiFi service to conference delegates and visitors to Hull Truck?

The world's eyes will be on Hull as it takes to the stage as UK City of Culture. We know that visitors will want to share, tweet and record their experiences more than ever before, so we have to make sure that they’re constantly connected.

Our WiFi capabilities and Lightstream broadband connection enables audiences to use social media to comment in real time about their experiences of a show.

It also means that Hull Truck Theatre is now able to attract more higher-profile conferences and events, which takes us a step closer towards our goal of being a cultural hub for the region. The café and foyers are now more attractive spaces for informal meetings.

The WiFi service also benefits our staff too. The use of tablets and other devices allows both the Communications and Engagement and Learning departments to connect with people in a different way. Plus we’re greener because instead of printing documents, we view them on devices instead.

Would you ever go back to your old connection?

Absolutely not!

Are you planning to work with KCOM on future services?

The partnership between Hull Truck Theatre and KCOM for Digital Utopias was definitely a success and since installing the WiFi, we’ve also installed SmartComms – KCOM’s managed managed VoIP service.

Consolidating our telecoms and data infrastructure in this way benefits us in so many areas. It’s much more cost effective, particularly as our old phone system was no longer supported so repairs were both costly and time consuming. It is also greener as we have reduced the amount of equipment in the building and use KCOM's managed service instead.

In fact, our partnership is so strong that Hull Truck and KCOM are working together on a campaign to promote the technology in the building to visitors. Discussions are already underway about how the theatre can be used for meetings and future conferences.

Our new technology delivers massive cost and operational benefits for our staff and visitors and importantly, it opens up new possibilities for Hull Truck Theatre too.