THE UK GOVERNMENT is praying that a new partnership with the Church of England will help it to boost rural broadband connectivity.
The 'Spires for Hire' agreement will encourage the church to "use its buildings and other property to improve broadband, mobile and WiFi connectivity for local communities," the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) preached on Sunday.
According to the DCMS, 65 per cent of Anglican churches and 66 per cent of parishes in England are well placed to address connectivity and coverage problems.
More than 120 churches have already agreed to have some sort of broadband-boosting kit attached to them. This includes having aerials, satellite dishes, and more traditional fibre cables installed, or putting wireless transmitters spires and towers.
The government is hoping that, with more than 16,000 church buildings across Europe, that more will now sign-up and help to expand the rural broadband scheme.
UK gov affirmed, though, that any telecoms infrastructure deployed does not impact on the character and architectural or historic significance of churches.
Privacy-unaware DCMS Secretary of State Matt Hancock said: "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."
The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, added: "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."
UK gov's announcement comes after it last year pledged that all British homes and businesses will have the right to demand access to broadband with speeds of at least 10Mbps by 2020. µ
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