Norfolk

Church spires used for broadband signals in Norfolk

Church spires in parts of Norfolk will be used to emit broadband signals to help provide high-speed internet access to rural communities.

Church visitors will also be able to log on from within the nave to find out more about a building's history.

The idea is a business venture between the Diocese of Norwich and local broadband provider Freeclix.

David Broom, from the diocese, said he hoped the first church would "go live" in the next few weeks.

About a dozen churches across the Broads area, south-west Norfolk and the north Norfolk coast will then follow suit as part of the project, called Wispire.

Participating churches will also benefit from surveillance cameras to help fight lead theft and vandalism.

'Much-needed service'

Local businesses will pay a fee to use the broadband signal, which is expected to be strong because the spires are so high up.

"This is much-needed in rural areas because the signal is usually so poor," said Mr Broom, who is director of operations.

He added that they hoped to give churches a "small" subscription revenue based on the number of local people who take up the service.

"We're not looking to have people sitting in the church all day surfing the internet," Mr Broom added.

"But, in techno speak, all the churches will be a captive portal, or a Wi-Fi hot spot, which means that if you enter the building and log on to the internet, the first thing you'll see is a web page about it.

"We have a wealth of medieval churches in Norfolk. Lots of tourists visit these buildings and this is an opportunity to tell them more."

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