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Church of England to Help Spread Wireless Broadband into Rural Areas

Monday, May 16th, 2016 (10:08 am) - Score 879
uk church in burghill

Reports suggest that the Church of England (CoE) has offered to help boost rural broadband connectivity by opening up access to 10,000 of their churches so that alternative wireless network providers can install their kit on top.

The idea itself is by no means new and a number of Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) providers already make use of such an approach. One of the best examples of this stems from WiSpire’s joint collaboration with the Diocese of Norwich, which has enabled their superfast broadband network to reach thousands of premises around rural Norfolk in England.

wispire_cantley_network

According to The Guardian, Sir Tony Baldry, who chairs the Church Buildings Council, has recently engaged with the Government’s rural affairs minister and offered the use of their church spires and towers in order to help deliver upon the new 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO) and expand “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) coverage.

Rory Stewart, Rural Affairs Minister, said:

“Church spires are ideally located in remote rural areas to allow point-to-point broadband coverage. The offer from the church commissioners is greatly appreciated, and we are working closely with our colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to take advantage of the technological opportunities.”

The plan would require new guidelines so as to both protect the many churches, which are listed buildings, from harm and to also make it easier for ISPs to engage with rural communities where such buildings are so often present.

Mind you’re we’re not aware of there being any overly significant problems with gaining access to such churches and thus it remains unclear whether the new guidelines will actually result in a significant uptake in this approach.

The main barriers for ISPs are still fundamentally a mix of infrastructure (i.e. building the capacity to fuel a wireless network) and financial issues (i.e. finding enough people who will take the service in order to make it viable).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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6 Responses
  1. Avatar Patrick Cosgrove

    It’s a good move, although Sir Tony Baldry can’t actually “offer” the use of the church spires and towers. I suspect he can provide a model contract to use with a wireless provider in the way that Hereford Diocese did with a FW company called Allpay a couple of years ago. The final decision is down to a Parochial Church Council.

  2. Avatar Phil Coates

    Nice. Our church tower is about 50m away from the only Fibre cab in the village centre which is the lowest point around. Pity it won’t help the other half of the village connected to an exchange 7km in the opposite direction.

    • Well you never know, they could perhaps setup a point-to-point Microwave link on the Church and distribute from nearer to the more remote side of the community.

    • Avatar MikeW

      Strange, Phil. It sounds precisely like it *would* help the other side of the village.

      Or are you saying that none of that half have line-of-sight to the church tower?

    • Avatar phil coates

      Yep, the Church is in a dip and cannot be seen from the surrounding houses about 1km away.

  3. Avatar gerarda

    They have being doing this since 2003/4 so not sure why its being announced as something unless the CoE is making it mandatory for Dioceses and Church Councils to offer access.

    One of the problems in using this as a viable service is that the churches are usually in the centre of the village where premises are more likely to have an ADSL or superfast service and the outlying premises which have the need may not have line of sight.

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