Digital jukebox will use broadband to storm pubs

Picking a few tracks to listen to down the local will never be the same again, as high-speed Web access bringing music to the ears of drinkers

Thousands of pubs will soon be offering customers the chance to use the latest device to fuse high-speed Internet access and digital music -- the broadband-enabled jukebox.

Inspired Broadcast Networks, the company behind Wi-Fi network operator The Cloud, released details on Monday of the digital music player. Designed to replace the traditional pub jukebox, it uses a broadband connection to give customers access to an online database of two million songs.

It also embraces e- and m-commerce, through a partnership with Entertainment UK, part of high street chain Woolworths. After selecting a track to play, users will be able to order a CD of the relevant album. By next year, they should also get the option of getting it emailed to them as MP3 files.

If a ringtone version of their chosen song exists they can also buy that. Payment can be by cash or Visa.

Thousands of models of the digital jukebox should be rolled out across Britain's pubs over the next two years.

This deployment could have a knock-on effect on the availability of high-speed Web connectivity in rural areas.

The Cloud, which is the largest network of Wi-Fi networks in the UK, has the potential to become a wireless backbone that community groups can hang their own networks off. Back in February, company officials said they'd be happy for community broadband networks to be connected to its wireless hot spots.