Church tower broadband firm aims to spread its reach across the region
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
A scheme which uses church towers to improve broadband signal in hard-to-reach areas is aiming to spread its service into Suffolk.
Norwich-based WiSpire has also been named in the top 10 suppliers for a Broadband Delivery UK-administered voucher scheme – installing systems for 132 customers in the last four months of 2016 with another 300 expected to come on-board in 2017.
And people whose premises endure connection speeds of 2MBps or below are being urged to apply for the subsidy.
WiSpire has installations at more than 40 churches and other tall buildings in Norfolk and is hoping to bring 10 more online this year – with churches in Suffolk among the targets.
David Broom, business development manager at WiSpire, said: 'We get inquiries on almost a daily basis from around the country but at the moment we are mainly focused on Norfolk.
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'We look at the topographical landscape and the natural next step is across the border to Suffolk and parts of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire.
'There are some very flat landscapes which are good but we also look for places where we know there are some customers who will use it.
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'To make a church live is quite expensive so it needs to make business sense.'
With the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme, run by Norfolk County Council and BT, targeting superfast broadband for 95% of Norfolk by 2020 the business, which has a turnover of around £600,000, is aiming to provide connections to the 5% left behind.
Mr Broom said: 'We have quite sophisticated planning tools to look at particular areas where the BT superfast programme is expanding and where is still needing a connection.
'Lot of these areas tend to be small, rural hamlets where the challenge is having the infrastructure available.
'Putting a mast there would be very expensive but if you already have a tall building there then you can make use of that – which is what we do.'
With the rise of 4G signal, which is being led by mobile phone networks, there is also the opportunity to use it to provide internet connections to clients.
WiSpire connects businesses and schools as well as domestic properties and uses satellites as well as church-based solutions.