Research

UK Govt. and Church of England Join Forces to Improve Wi-Fi

UK Govt. and Church of England Join Forces to Improve Wi-Fi

Most of the churches in England are in rural areas.

The majority of Anglican churches and parishes in England are in rural areas, often in the heart of their communities, and so are well-placed to tackle problems of poor connectivity.

Ministers are trying to answer the prayers of people fed up with patchy broadband and mobile phone signals - by putting more masts on church spires. It follows news of the government announcing the delivery of superfast broadband to 95% of United Kingdom premises, but "significant areas" of the countryside are said to still be left without a decent connection.

The only thing which is more surprising than creative thinking from the government is the welcoming arms of the church in this example.

The Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport states that there are already 120 cases of mobile services across United Kingdom parishes.

Two trial programmes in the Dioceses of Chelmsford and Norwich have already seen some success.

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"Our work has significantly improved rural access to high-speed broadband", said Rev. Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Chelmsford in a press statement.

Two dioceses, Chelmsford and Norwich, are already backing programs that make use of church buildings to boost rural connectivity.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said improved digital connectivity would give rural communities better online access to public services and improve social interaction with family and friends.

"Where there is a need, a suitable building is available and appropriate terms can be agreed, the mobile operators will continue to extend their use of churches to increase mobile coverage and capacity, while respecting the church environment", added Hamish McLeod, director of industry body Mobile UK.

Guidance from the Church and Historic England stipulates that any new telecoms infrastructure must not affect the "character and architectural or historic significance of churches". As part of the same agreement, the British government vowed to be at the disposal of any parish or diocese seeking advice on how to approach the process of improving Internet connectivity in their area.

The hope is that, if such a plan works well in practice, it could be extended to other faith communities with similar estates. According to The Telegraph over 100 churches are now used to improve network infrastructure, but under the new agreement a further 16,000 CofE buildings could house broadband and mobile equipment - including satellite dishes, aerials, and other wireless transmitters.


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