(AFP) – Church spires across Britain will be used to boost broadband, mobile phone and WiFi connectivity in rural areas, under a deal struck between the government and the Church of England, it was announced Sunday.
“This agreement with the Church of England will mean that even a 15th century building can help make Britain fit for the future,” said Matt Hancock, the minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The CoE has 16,000 church buildings and around 65 percent of its churches are located in rural communities, making them ideal hosts of key digital infrastructure.
There are currently more than 120 cases of broadband and mobile services being delivered from parish churches, from wireless transmitters fitted in spires and towers, to aerials, satellite dishes and fibre cables.
“We know that rural churches in particular have always served as a hub for their communities,” said Stephen Cottrell, the bishop of Chelmsford in southeast England, where the church has already helped boost broadband access.
“Encouraging churches to improve connectivity will help tackle two of the biggest issues rural areas face – isolation and sustainability.”