UK Government To Use Church Spires For Boosting Rural Broadband Connectivity
The UK Government and the Church of England have reached a signed agreement which will use the Church’s buildings and other properties to improve broadband, mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity for local communities.
Clear guidance set out by both the Church and Historic England ensures that any telecoms infrastructure deployed does not impact on the character and architectural or historic significance of churches.
65% of Anglican churches and 66% of parishes in England are in rural areas and their locations at the heart of their communities mean they are often well placed to address connectivity and coverage problems.
Matt Hancock of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media 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.”
The Dioceses of Chelmsford and Norwich are already supporting programmes which use Church buildings to improve connectivity in rural areas.
It is hoped the accord will be instrumental in encouraging more local dioceses and parishes to positively consider how they can use their property in this way.
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.”