The government's spent a lot of time moaning about how there are lots of spots in the UK where there's no signal, but so far hasn't been able to do anything about it. Suggestions have been made, like telling networks to share signal or making it easier to put up new masts, someone had the bright idea to get the churches involved.
It's the kind of news that would make Hot Fuzz's neighbourhood watch have a heart attack, mobile networks will be allowed to install 4G antennae at the top of church spires.
It's part of a new agreement between ministers and bishops of the Church of England and the government, following a successful trial that saw network connectivity improve in two areas. It's hoped that this will help improve signal in rural areas without the hassle and expense of installing brand new masts. After all the church towers are already there in the sky, and all they're really good for is telling the time and waking people up early on Sunday morning.
The agreement has been signed by digital secretary Matt Hancock and Bishop of Manchester Dr David Walker, and it includes a pledge to work out a contract that both networks and the church can be happy with. According to The Telegraph over 100 churches are currently used to improve network infrastructure, but under the new agreement a further 16,000 CofE buildings could house broadband and mobile equipment - including satellite dishes, aerials, and other wireless transmitters.
Mobile UK, the organisation that represents EE, O2, three, and Vodafone has welcomed the news, saying networks will be able to "extend their use of churches to increase mobile coverage and capacity while respecting the church environment.”
This can only be a god thing for the people living out in the country, despite a few church-goers who may object to their holy building being used to improve connectivity to something so decadent as the internet. Connecting to the web can be difficult in a well-populated area, but out in the country there's usually very little incentive for providers to deal with the expense. At least by cutting down the installation costs (and time) by using existing architecture, there are fewer barriers between residents and high-speed connectivity. [The Telegraph]