Getting our rural churches online

Getting our rural churches online

How to get wi fi into your church, and what to do with it when you have

Which of these is the odd one out? Your local café, the library and your parish church….. your church is probably the only one where you can’t get wi fi.

When the Benefice of the Future project started in 2017, of the 28 rural churches, only one had broadband. By March this year that number will have grown to 3, with a further 10 having portable plug in wi fi units. So, how has this been done, and how much does it cost?

The traditional means is by getting a new telephone line installed and connecting it to a broadband router – this is what most of us probably have at home, and it works fine. Costs are approximately £100 installation, plus about £40 per month rental. So far so good, but there is a catch, because the new line needs to be attached to the outside of the building, and holes then drilled for cable access. For many of our grade 1 and 2 listed buildings, this was going to cause damage to the fabric, so was simply not an option. When we then asked about running the line underground, the installation cost jumped smartly to £6000 plus, so for a while we were stuck, unless there was a church hall next to the church which we could attach the cable to.

Daisy Communications then offered plug in mobile wi fi. Sometimes known as dongles, these use the mobile phone network to deliver wi fi, and because they are portable, have no detrimental impact on the fabric of the building, so no faculty is necessary. Coverage can be patchy, but the MiFi units will work on any SIM card so we can use whichever network is strongest. Cost starts from £25 per month and rise to £30 pm for unlimited data. Another advantage is that you can put the unit in your pocket, and use it elsewhere.

And how are our churches planning to use with this new found connectivity?

Six have plans for new, more interactive forms of worship, including streamed music and video content. A further group are introducing contactless giving and a third group are planning to increase community use of their buildings.

If you’d like more information please get in touch with our parish support team.