National News

Church spires to boost mobile coverage

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Image caption The Church of England has the third-largest rural estate in the country

Church spires could be used to boost mobile and broadband coverage in rural areas under an agreement between the UK government and the Church of England.

The government has committed to achieving good-quality mobile connectivity across the UK by 2022.

While the agreement encourages churches to sign up, they will still have to negotiate the usual planning process.

Digital analysts welcomed the development but said “the devil would be in the detail”.

“Getting access to suitable sites, particularly in rural areas, has been a real challenge for mobile operators, so any initiative aimed at improving this will be welcomed by the industry,” said Matthew Howett, principal analyst at research firm Assembly.

Local agreements

“What’s not clear, though, is what the commercial relationship looks like. There have been many stories of rural land owners effectively holding operators to ransom for access to some sites, which has slowed down rollout and added considerably to the cost.”

The government said commercial arrangements would be made locally between dioceses or parishes and mobile operators and broadband providers but gave no further details.

Two-thirds of Anglican churches are in rural areas and their location at the heart of their communities means they are well-placed to help deliver improved mobile connectivity, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said.

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.”

‘Deplorable’ coverage

There are already about 120 examples of broadband and mobile services being delivered from parish churches across the country, according to the Church of England.

These take a variety of forms – from wireless transmitters in spires to aerials, satellite dishes and cables. The equipment is used to boost both voice and data coverage.

The Dioceses of Norwich and Chelmsford have been signed up to programmes for at least five years.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell, said: “Encouraging churches to improve connectivity will help tackle two of the biggest issues rural areas face – isolation and sustainability.

“Our work has significantly improved rural access to high-speed broadband.”

The Bishop of Norwich, the Right Reverend Graham James, said using parish churches “creatively” would enhance their value to communities.

According to Ofcom’s figures, published in December, 4G coverage – where a signal is available from all four mobile operators – is currently available across 43% of the UK.

For calls and text messaging, 70% of the UK can receive a signal from all four operators.

At the time, Lord Adonis, the chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, urged Ofcom to improve mobile service, which he described as “deplorable”.

Find your Favourite Tunes – Try1Thing in Get Online Week

Learning to use the internet might be necessary to sort things out these days – but don’t forget, it can also be fun!

What old tunes would you want to find in Get Online Week? Perhaps

Thanks to the support of Todmorden Town Council, Hebden Royd Town Council, Calderdale Libraries and the Good Things Foundation Stoodley Training Mentors will be holding free events in the Todmorden and Hebden Bridge at:

  • Hebden Royd Methodist Church Monday 2 October 1:30pm-3pm

  • Hebden Bridge Town Hall Tuesday 3 October 11am-1pm

  • Todmorden Library Wednesday 4 October 10:30am-12:30pm

and there’ll be lots of friendly support for anyone who wants to start doing a bit more online – and it’s absolutely free. For more information call 01422 847827.

We really want to reach more people and ‘Open Their World’ but we need support to do that. If you want to help visit our Neighbourly site at http://ra-w.uk/STM-CF

#Try1Thing Shopping during Get Online Week

As people get older they may want to make the most of their time and take the drudgery out of shopping. Order online to get the heavy and bulky things delivered then when you go to the shops there’s time for a relaxing cuppa (and cake!) with your friends. Getting your first shop may be your #try1thing this week.

Obviously, by definition, if you’re seeing this then you are already digitally aware. But are your friends and family feeling disenfranchised?

Thanks to the support of Todmorden Town Council, Hebden Royd Town Council, Calderdale Libraries and the Good Things Foundation Stoodley Training Mentors will be holding free events in the Todmorden and Hebden B ridge at:

  • Hebden Royd Methodist Church Monday 2 October 1:30pm-3pm

  • Hebden Bridge Town Hall Tuesday 3 October 11am-1pm

  • Todmorden Library Wednesday 4 October 10:30am-12:30pm

and there’ll be lots of friendly support for anyone who wants to start doing a bit more online – and it’s absolutely free. For more information call 01422 847827.

How will your friends #try1thing in Get Online Week

 

Obviously, by definition, if you’re seeing this then you are already digitally aware. But are your friends and family feeling disenfranchised?

Get Online Week 2017 aims to help 15.2 million people in the UK who are not making full use of the internet. The campaign is encouraging them to take a next step toward crossing the digital divide – by asking them to Try 1 Thing – use the internet to do just one thing that they usually do offline.

It could be their first online shopping experience or video call, setting up online banking, GP appointments or benefit claims, or applying for a job online – anything that they haven’t had the skills or confidence to try before now.

It’s not just for those who have never used a computer or tablet. Millions of people who can use a smartphone to read the news, use Facebook, or send online messages, aren’t able to undertake more complex online tasks like filling in forms and finding reliable advice and information. They’re missing out on all the financial, social and health benefits the internet offers.

For these people, choosing just one task that they’ve not previously done online and the getting the help they need to get started, can be a big next step to becoming a more confident user of the internet. They just need to go along to a local Get Online Week event to Try 1 Thing!

Thanks to the support of Todmorden Town Council, Hebden Royd Town Council, Calderdale Libraries and the Good Things Foundation Stoodley Training Mentors will be holding free events in the Todmorden and Hebden Bridge at:

  • Hebden Royd Methodist Church Monday 2 October 1:30pm-3pm

  • Hebden Bridge Town Hall Tuesday 3 October 11am-1pm

  • Todmorden Library Wednesday 4 October 10:30am-12:30pm

and there’ll be lots of friendly support for anyone who wants to start doing a bit more online – and it’s absolutely free.

Getting ready for Get Online Week in October

Try 1 Thing

Get Online Week 2017 aims to help 15.2 million people in the UK who are not making full use of the internet. The campaign is encouraging them to take a next step toward crossing the digital divide – by asking them to Try 1 Thing – use the internet to do just one thing that they usually do offline.

It could be their first online shopping experience or video call, setting up online banking, GP appointments or benefit claims, or applying for a job online – anything that they haven’t had the skills or confidence to try before now.

It’s not just for those who have never used a computer or tablet. Millions of people who can use a smartphone to read the news, use Facebook, or send online messages, aren’t able to undertake more complex online tasks like filling in forms and finding reliable advice and information. They’re missing out on all the financial, social and health benefits the internet offers.

For these people, choosing just one task that they’ve not previously done online and the getting the help they need to get started, can be a big next step to becoming a more confident user of the internet. They just need to go along to a local Get Online Week event to Try 1 Thing!