In a bid to bring rural communities into the loop, the Church of England is working with the UK government on a potential plan to use church spires for better broadband and mobile coverage
Throughout history churches have been built at the heart of communities and usually at the highest point in the landscape, not to mention towering steeples. These characteristics all contribute to churches being prime locations to enhance connectivity.
Churches would be paid for housing the necessary broadband and mobile coverage equipment, with consideration also being paid to the architectural aesthetics by making the antenna and other elements discreet.
Matt Hancock, Minister for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport, said: “Churches are central features and valued assets for local communities up and down the country.”
“This agreement with the Church of England will mean that even a 15th Century building can help make Britain fit for the future, improving people’s lives by boosting connectivity in some of our hardest-to-reach areas.”
This proposal to expand the project does not come without some extensive testing, with other Dioceses having already been providing rural communities with this boosted support for a number of years. Those of Norwich and Chelmsford have been involved in projects like this for a minimum of five years.
As reported by the BBC, The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell, said: “Encouraging churches to improve connectivity will help tackle two of the biggest issues rural areas face – isolation and sustainability. “Our work has significantly improved rural access to high-speed broadband.”
The UK government has been heavily engaged in a national broadband scheme, stating that 95.1 per cent of the nation’s homes and companies can access download speeds of 24 Mbps, but it appears that rural communities have been left far behind the curve.