Getting coverage into rural areas is a constant challenge for the networks. We’ve seen EE using an innovative home-broadband solution for rural homes and Vodafone have their Sure Signal kit plus new mini masts. However, the problem with planning permission and fierce opposition to unsightly large masts in communities continues, as does the cost of getting and renting land to put the masts on.
Today the Church of England, which has the third-largest rural estate in the country, have reached an agreement with the government here in the UK. The “accord” encourages churches to sign up to improve connectivity in rural areas. A new standard contract can be used for churches hosting mobile and and broadband equipment. More than 100 churches are currently being used to house mobile phone masts, however there’s more than 16,000 church buildings in this agreement.
Ofcom recently announced that 82% of homes in rural areas do not receive a 4G signal from any of the major phone networks.
Sounds like a win-win to us, especially when you consider how many schools have masts on their buildings. The local community benefits, and the churches receive a regular income from the mobile operators who put their kit into bell towers etc.
As we’ve seen many years ago, networks can hide their masts in flag and telegraph poles – even in petrol station signs. You might not think that there’s one in your local area, but it could be in the lamppost or tree by your home, and it’s now even more difficult to find your local mast as networks aren’t required to release maps.
If you want to have a look at how these antennas are hidden into church spires, this page could be of interest. A lot of the time, you won’t even know that they’re there.