Church of England in talks to help improve rural broadband speeds header image

Published: 18th May 2016

Church of England (CoE) officials have met with government representatives to discuss the possibility of using its buildings to improve broadband speeds in rural areas.

According to the Guardian, the CoE believes its church spires could be used as communications towers and therefore make superfast broadband speeds available to those who may not benefit from state-funded rollouts.

The newspaper understands that guidelines are now being drawn up that outline how up to 10,000 churches in non-urban areas could be used in this way and help offer wireless internet connectivity to local people.

Rural affairs minister Rory Stewart has discussed the proposal with the Church Buildings Council and is confident this could be a viable way forward.

"Church spires are ideally located in remote rural areas to allow point-to-point broadband coverage," he stated.

"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."

This development could help ease the concerns of those who are unhappy with the government's recent statement that broadband speeds of at least 10Mbps will not be an automatic right in areas that are difficult to reach.

Since connecting these locations is seen as highly costly, homes and businesses in rural areas would be required to request connections instead.

News of the CoE's proposal comes shortly after the NFU warned that only four per cent of farmers are able to access superfast broadband speeds, despite a growing need to be able to make the most of online access.

NFU president Guy Smith said a lack of access to superfast broadband could hamper the running of farms and undermine the ambitions of the government's 25-year food and farming plan.