Accord between Government and Church of England lays ground for installing broadband, mobile and Wi-Fi infrastructure on church buildings in rural areas
The Government has come to an agreement with the Church of England to use church spires to boost digital connectivity in rural areas.
An accord has been signed by the National Church Institutions of the Church of England, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) that encourages the C of E to use its buildings to improve broadband, mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity.
It covers all the relevant technologies, with churches being free to explore what works best for their communities, and will be implemented in line with existing guidance from the C of E and Historic England on the installation of telecoms equipment in places of worship. It makes clear it should not impact on the character of the buildings.
Bishop of Chelmsford the Right Reverend 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.”
“Many new forms of technology are available to improve internet access in rural areas and I hope that this partnership between the Church of England and the Government will help rural churches consider how they can be part of the solution."
DCMS said there are already more than 120 cases of broadband and mobile services being delivered from parish churches around the country. These makes use of wireless transmitters, aerials, satellite dishes and fibre cables.
The C of E has just over 16,000 church buildings in 12,500 parishes.
The department added that is it is possible similar accords could be made with other faith communities.
Image (cropped) by Tim Green, CC BY 2.0 through flickr