Fantastic food and scenery are the contributions most people expect farmers to make to their enjoyment of this summer’s Tour de Yorkshire.
What they maybe won’t expect is to see tractors equipped to offer a free wifi service.
But thanks to a collaboration between the NFU, Massey Ferguson and satellite broadband company Avonline, that’s exactly what is planned.
Two tractors have now been given a hi-tech makeover that will see them able to create a free wifi hotspot extending 500 metres in all directions from each vehicle.
They will be situated in four of the busiest spots on the route, moving from Stage 1 to Stage 2 overnight.
During the first stage, one tractor will be located at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Visitor Centre in Hawes, where 5,000 people are expected to converge. The other will be at the Visitor Centre in Grassington, where National Park staff are expecting to welcome around 3,000 people.
For stage two, one tractor will head to the Steel Stage event at High Bradfield near Sheffield and the other will provide wifi access for spectators gathering in Holme village at the foot of the Holme Moss climb.
“We are really excited about this project and we hope it will add to people’s enjoyment of what will be an amazing event,” said NFU regional director Richard Pearson.
“Farmers across Yorkshire are gearing up to welcome tens of thousands of people for the Tour, showcasing the fabulous food and scenery for which the county is famous.
“But as our members know only too well, getting internet access can be a tricky business out in the countryside – it’s something they grapple with every day whether they’re registering online animal movements or simply engaging with the public on Twitter or Facebook.
“It’s obvious spectators will want to use their phones to access visitor information and post pictures, tweets and so on. As we understand how frustrating a lack of broadband in rural areas can be, we wondered if this was something we could help with.
“The result is a great working partnership with Massey Ferguson and Avonline and voilà; tractors can indeed be mobile wifi hotspots!”
Lindsay Haddon from Massey Ferguson said: “We are delighted to be involved in this event. Our tractors will be there to help supply broadband to this rural area, something that many of us take for granted.”
Mark Wynn from Avonline Broadband added: “We think this is a great way of keeping people connected while they are enjoying the Tour de Yorkshire – and a powerful way of showing how modern satellite broadband technology can deliver fast broadband anywhere in the country, no matter how remote. Thousands of people in rural locations have already signed up to get satellite broadband, and the message is now spreading.”
As hosts for Stage One, Tracey Lambert Recreation and Tourism Manager with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority said: “These tractors will be a great asset to our spectator hubs. They provide a much needed service for our visitors in a quirky and interesting way, highlighting the part that farming plays in managing our beautiful landscape.”