Broadband company WiSpire is sold to InTouch Systems
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A Norfolk telecoms company has extended its wireless network after buying an innovative broadband provider which uses church steeples as transmission masts.
InTouch Systems, based in Hurricane Way, Norwich, has acquired WiSpire from publisher Archant and the Diocese of Norwich.
Director Steve Temple said the deal would increase InTouch's reach across Norfolk and north Suffolk, helping it to fulfil a contract with South Norfolk Council which is targeting rural 'not-spots' which other broadband providers do not serve.
The church network, which currently has 47 connections, will add to the capabilities of InTouch's existing system, called ITSwisp, which uses its own masts placed across the county.
Mr Temple said: 'Churches are perfectly situated to benefit people in rural communities, like in South Norfolk.
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'The Diocese of Norwich has been very supportive of expanding the network and over the next 12 to 24 months we will be adding another 11 churches.'
The company's broadband customers are an even split between commercial and residential, but it was seeing an increase in use at rural business parks.
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Mr Temple said: 'Broadband drives everything these days. If you build a business park you need good connections or no one will come.'
The addition of WiSpire will see InTouch bolster its 23-strong team to 30 people.
WiSpire was founded in 2011 by the Diocese and received an injection of funding from Archant, publisher of the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, to help expand its reach.
Jeff Henry, chief executive of Archant, said: 'Archant has helped WiSpire grow to be a key provider of rural broadband provision in Norfolk and with InTouch Systems it has the perfect owner to continue that growth.'
Richard Butler, chief executive of the Diocese of Norwich, said: 'We are keen to see that growth accelerate and more church towers be used to deliver such a vital service to the communities we serve, and InTouch Systems have significant expertise in rural broadband provision.'
The Rt Rev Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, said the sale of the business 'embeds it in the life of Norfolk'.