An agreement between the U.K. government and the church will see remote parish church buildings pressed to serve as sites for Wi-Fi transmitters, mobile masts, and satellite relay stations. Nearly two-thirds of the Church of England’s buildings (65%) are to be found in rural areas, and often their spires are the highest local landmark.
Many rural parishes struggle to maintain church buildings. As well as extending the reach of the Internet, the arrangement will provide much-needed cash to keep church buildings in good repair.
“Churches are central features and valued assets for local communities up and down the country,” said Matt Hancock, MP, the government minister in charge of the project. “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.”
Trial projects in the eastern dioceses of Chelmsford and Norwich claim success. The Rt. Rev. Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford, said the project had significantly improved access to broadband services in rural Essex.
“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,” he said.