Cornerstone – the mobile infrastructure services company for O2 and Vodafone UK – has reached a new agreement with the Church of England to help to boost coverage in areas with poor signal by installing discrete antennas on religious buildings.
The agreement will provide improved connectivity throughout both rural and small urban communities, in areas which have been previously difficult to receive mobile coverage.
Churches have been given more freedom around the types of infrastructure that they can facilitate through the recent introduction of the Electronic Communications Code. This code provides guidance for the installation of communications structures affecting public land, and results in considerably simplified planning procedures.
Cornerstone’s agreement with the Church of England, which took the form of a memorandum of understanding, will provide an efficient, predictable and fair process for implementing a communications installation on the site or building of the church. Trusted contractors will need the support of the church in question, and the agreement crucially helps all parties to comply with ecclesiastical law, as well as other legal requirements.
Church towers and spires are the perfect place to install mobile coverage boosters as they are generally in the heart of rural communities, and the height of the tower avoids having to install signal masts which would damage the aesthetic of the area.
This is not the first time that churches have been used to distribute wireless connection. The WiSpire project uses church towers in collaboration with other existing tall structures (including masts, silos and a wind turbine) to bring high speed broadband to residents and businesses across Norfolk.
Installing equipment on churches provides a number of unique issues; protecting the historic structure; maintaining visual subtlety of the equipment; and working with the local community to ensure they are in support of the work.
However, the Church of England are keen to encourage the considerate application of signal boosting to their communities across the country, keeping their place at the heart of the community and providing a service of communication to their society.
Becky Clark, Director of Churches and Cathedrals, said: “Church of England churches have been hosting mobile-phone infrastructure to provide services to local people for over 25 years, and in that time the importance of having access to strong, reliable mobile network coverage has increased beyond measure.
Our 16,000 church buildings are a Christian presence in every community and have always been used to provide local people with help and support – from food banks and night shelters to harvest festivals and weddings.
This new agreement is in that same model; it does not place churches under any obligation, but for those which are well placed to support better mobile connectivity it gives them a clear way forward which protects their interests, and the building’s historic importance. Churches provide for the needs of everyday life, and in the 21st century mobile connectivity is a key part of that.”
With the number of smartphone users in the United Kingdom set to increase by almost 4 million in just the next three years, connectivity is becoming more and more important for our personal and professional needs.
Having trouble with the mobile or broadband coverage in your workplace? Get in touch with our knowledgeable team to find out how we can help your business implement better connectivity.