UK Churches Join Forces With Vodaphone to Push 5G Rollout 

Published on
28/07/2023 10:34 AM
Churches Vodaphone 5G

The Church of England has partnered with Vodaphone and the mobile coverage specialist Net CS to install new 4G and 5G mobile technology in 11 churches across the UK. 

The project, unveiled in a blog post by Vodaphone, is a joint venture between the Church and Vodaphone to provide reliable 4G coverage in rural communities by installing OpenRAN technology and improving overall 5G connectivity across England to bridge the digital divide. 

Churches have been identified as strategic sites for installing this tech due to their central and elevated positions within small towns and villages, giving them an ideal vantage point to distribute signals efficiently in areas that have historically struggled for quality mobile coverage. 

“Churches are typically very tall, on high ground and close to the community we’re trying to connect said Andrea Dona, Network and Development Director at Vodafone UK. 

“This makes them the perfect place to install a mobile site, and now we’ve developed technology that’s small enough not to spoil the appearance of the church”

“Our aim is to use this cutting-edge technology to improve mobile coverage in as many rural locations as possible. This is an important step in ensuring rural communities can enjoy all the benefits of mobile connectivity.” 

Connecting the isolated 

The churches and parishes taking part in the project include Churches in small towns and villages across Norfolk, Dorset, Devon Wiltshire and Essex. 

The roll-out follows the announcement of the planned merger of Vodafone UK and Three UK, which will give the two companies the scale required to invest £11 billion over the next decade to create Europe’s leading 5G network and create jobs in all nations and regions.

 

 

Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans, said the initiative will help “combat the social justice issue of poor connectivity” which impacts many residents in isolated and rural areas. 

"This project is an example of the many ways churches benefit their local communities. As well as delivering better mobile coverage, the improved connectivity achieved through these new church-based sites helps combat the social justice issue of poor connectivity which affects many residents in rural areas."

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“The key consideration for us has always been the wishes of local communities, who have been widely supportive of these new sites. “Net CS, our infrastructure facilitator, ensures that the new installations are unobtrusive, safe for our congregations and the wider community, and will deliver benefits to church users and the whole community.”

Unleashing the power of OpenRAN

While Churches have previously been identified as ideal spots for installing mobile tech, it is recent advancements in OpenRAN technology that have made it possible to install systems which are effective but also unobtrusive. 

"This project clearly demonstrates the value of churches as a key part of the nationwide solution to mobile not-spots," said Peter Morrell-Brown, Chairman at NetCS

OpenRAN has made a lot of these sites viable for the first time, providing new locations that could go a long way towards driving better rural and urban coverage across the country.

“We see this project as just the beginning of the growth of church-based mobile coverage sites – the infrastructure that we’re putting in place is available for use by any operator, potentially solving a significant part of the UK’s mobile coverage challenge.”

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