Earlier this week it was announced that the Church of England and the government have come to a formal agreement to use churches in order to enhance connectivity in rural areas. The scheme aims to improve broadband and Wi-Fi services as well as mobile phone coverage.
According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport there are presently over 120 incidents of the internet and mobile services being boosted by churches across the country. Further improvements will be made by fitting equipment such as wireless transmitters, satellite dishes, aerials and cables in parish church buildings in isolated communities. Devices such as these can be installed within the building or spire as long as they do not alter the character of the church or affect its historical or architectural importance.
Areas which has already benefited from the initiative include the Chelmsford and Norwich dioceses. Indeed the Bishop of Chelmsford, Reverend Stephen Cottrell has spoken in favour of the accord, stating that the work has “significantly improved rural access to high-speed broadband.” He also believes that the improved connections “will help tackle two of the biggest issues rural areas face – isolations and sustainability.” The scheme also fits within the government’s longer-term strategy of providing faster broadband, as they have previously stated that by 2020, residents, as well as business, will have the legal right to a speed of at least 10 Mbps.
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