Church spires will be used to boost broadband and mobile connectivity in rural areas, the Culture Secretary has announced.
Church of England accused of driving a hard bargain for spire use
It’s claimed that Anglican churches are charging telecom companies too much money to allow them to improve broadband and mobile connectivity in rural areas by installing phone masts on spires.
In February, the Culture Secretary announced an agreement with the Church of England showed spires on medieval buildings can still help deliver 21st century services.
The majority of Anglican churches (65 per cent) and parishes (66 per cent) in England are in rural areas, often in the heart of their communities, and so are well-placed to tackle problems of poor connectivity.
However, Vodafone UK said there has been little progress on implementing the deal because churches are charging extortionate prices to use their steeples.
The churches usually use intermediary companies to negotiate on their behalf.
Kye Prigg, head of networks at Vodafone UK, told the Financial Times: “It looked like they were trying to help the community but really it has been about monetising the steeple.”
Vodafone told the Sunday Telegraph that the prices it would agree to pay would reflect the costs of installation and making the masts blend in.
It's reported that so far 100 of the Church’s 16,000 tall spires are being used for the cause.
A Church of England spokesman said the Church “centrally does not negotiate contracts for installing masts”. The responsibility falls on the governing body of a parish.
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