Rural connectivity across the UK is about greatly improve thanks to a new agreement with the Church.
A new agreement between the National Church Institutions (NCIs) 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) will now mean that church spires in rural areas will be used to boost signals like mobile connectivity and WiFi.
The announcement said almost two thirds (65 per cent) of Anglican churches, and two thirds (66 per cent) of parishes in England are located in rural areas, and usually at the very heart of their communities.
“Churches are central features and valued assets for local communities up and down the country. 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,“ said DCMS Secretary of State, Matt Hancock.
“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,“ added Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell.
“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. I know that many churches already help people access the internet and provide digital skills training, and this Accord is a natural extension of great work already occurring.”
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