If you’ve resorted to begging a higher power to do something about the poor connectivity in your rural community, the Church of England is finally heeding the call.
The C of E has broken bread with the UK government and has agreed for church spires to be used to boost broadband, Wi-Fi and mobile data quality in underserved areas of the country.
The accord between the C of E and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will also see church-owned buildings become hubs for better internet service.
In a press release on Monday, the government said 65% of Anglican churches and 66% of parishes are in rural communities, meaning they’re them well served to ‘spread the good word’ in an entirely new way.
Matt Hancock, the secretary of state for the DCMS 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.”
Any infrastructure changes involving the church buildings cannot affect the character and architecture of the buildings, the government says.
Prior to today’s announcement, the scheme had been piloted in Norwich and Chelmsford.
The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, said: “We know that rural churches in particular have always served as a hub for their communities. Encouraging churches to improve connectivity will help tackle two of the biggest issues rural areas face – isolation and sustainability.
“The Diocese of Chelmsford has been pioneering this approach with County Broadband since 2013. Our work has significantly improved rural access to high-speed broadband.”
The initiative is part of the government’s promise to offer 4G and ‘super fast’ broadband to everyone in the UK by 2020.
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