From the Revd Dr Richard F. Venn
Sir, - Further to your report about WiFi-enabled churches (News, 9
January), I write about our experience. This is a rural
four-parish benefice in Kent, and we have recently had broadband
repeaters installed on all four church towers.
These provide fast broadband for the surrounding villages by
line-of-sight wireless, and receive their signal from other
repeaters in the network. Thus the whole community benefits from
high-quality fast broadband access, and each church receives an
annual fee for providing this facility. Each church also benefits
from very fast broadband access via a wireless router.
The company involved (Vfast) have provided all the equipment,
installed all the electrical cabling. and paid for the faculty and
legal fees surrounding the granting of licences for the operation.
Furthermore, fast broadband is provided to one of the village halls
for use of the church office and the parish council, as well as to
the Vicarage in Lenham.
Each PCC is considering how it will further capitalise on this
facility. We have not yet considered some of the interactive
systems described in your article, but we certainly propose
offering internet cafés and other interactive heritage-access
systems for the community at large.
This was not achieved rapidly. The wheels of the Church's legal
system grind exceedingly slowly, and frequently needed oiling with
judicious questioning such as "What on earth is holding this up
now?" From first proposal to final installation and operation has
taken just under two years, with immense frustration.
We are, however, very pleased with the system, and look forward
to encouraging our communities to use the facilities more and
As an aside, we obtained a postcode for one of our churches by
the simple expedient of (temporarily) fixing a letter box to the
church outer door and sending ourselves some letters.
RICHARD F. VENN
Priest-in-Charge, Len Valley Benefice
The Vicarage, Old Ashford Road
Lenham, Maidstone ME17 2PX
From the Revd Peter Sear
Sir, - I read with interest (but also some apprehension)
about Lord Lloyd-Webber's plans to give WiFi access to every
church. But before WiFi-ed churches can become "centres of their
communities once again" something will have to be done to improve
internet speed in some rural areas.
Perhaps Lord Lloyd-Webber or the Government could help with this
where BT seems unable to help. A few years ago, the internet was
hailed as the opportunity to bring new life and employment
opportunities to rural areas; and yet it is our rural areas - I
imagine, because there are fewer potential customers for high-speed
internet than in an urban area - that are in danger of being left
Plumtree Cottage, 1 Rodmore Road
Evercreech, Shepton Mallet
Somerset BA4 6JL
From Mr Edward Mynors
Sir, - I am astounded to read that the Church of England is
planning to fit every church with WiFi internet access. When people
are dying from the Ebola virus and Islamist persecution, surely
there are higher priorities? In this parish, two of our churches do
not have electricity yet, and mobile-phone coverage varies from
patchy to non-existent; but we are quite happy, and would not have
it any other way.
EDWARD MYNORS (Reader)
Barn Owls, Cooks Lane
West Sussex PO18 9QB