Church towers will be repurposed to help deliver superfast broadband in rural communities in Somerset.
A partnership between the Diocese of Bath and Wells and local internet provider Wild West Net will use the towers as fixed wireless points, from which signals could be transmitted to other churches and to subscribing homes, businesses, schools and other premises.
The diocese has been working on the initiative for two years and two pilot schemes are now in the planning stages: one to service a cluster of churches around Ashbrittle, just outside Wellington, and another in the Somerset Levels.
The diocese said the scheme was aimed at people living in the most rural communities and who may not benefit from the roll-out of Government-funded superfast broadband, which is coordinated locally by Connecting Devon & Somerset (CDS). This scheme aims to reach 90 per cent of premises by the end of 2016.
“Whilst the progress made so far by CDS is commendable, what of the remaining 10 per cent? They are likely to be those in the most rural areas,” Richard Tulloch from the diocese said.
“Our churches exist to serve everyone in the local community and be at the very heart of community life. There is no better way to demonstrate this than using our towers – typically the tallest buildings in rural areas – to complement the roll out of superfast broadband in our county."
Tim Newman, managing director of Wild West Net, said, ‘We are delighted to have been approached by the Diocese of Bath and Wells and are looking forward to working with the diocese and its parishes across Somerset."