Network Norwich and Norfolk > Regional News > Diocese of Norwich bid to help broadband access

Diocese of Norwich bid to aid broadband access 

The Diocese of Norwich has entered a commercial partnership with Archant, under which WiSpire, a local provider of high-speed broadband launched by the Diocese in 2011, will gain increased support to accelerate the roll-out of rural broadband across Norfolk.


In an adventurous move to provide much-needed broadband services in hard-to-reach areas of Norfolk and North Suffolk, the Diocese of Norwich established WiSpire four years ago, servicing rural customers in Norfolk through wireless broadband transmitters attached to the spires of local churches.  High-profile supporters of the initiative include Lord Lloyd-Webber who called for every church to be a WiFi hotspot earlier this year.
The new partnership will see the Norwich-based local media business leverage its unique strengths and connections with the community in an agreement which includes investment, infrastructure, commercial strategy and marketing services.  

Archant’s Chief Executive, Jeff Henry, and Chairman, Simon Bax, join Bill Husselby and Richard Butler from the Diocese on the WiSpire board with immediate effect. In addition to Archant's investment, the business will provide a number of services to WiSpire including marketing support across Archant’s local media portfolio which reaches 85% of the Norfolk population every month.
Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James said: "WiSpire is a great concept which has worked well, using community buildings - our churches - to benefit all people in the community with speed of access to the internet, increasingly needed by us all.   WiSpire needs further development and I'm delighted that Archant see the potential for WiSpire in the years to come."

Richard Butler, Diocesan Secretary/Chief Executive of the Diocese of Norwich said: “Broadband access is critical to all consumers and businesses in our region. This new investment from Archant is incredibly exciting for our business and I am certain they will prove to be great commercial partner. We are well set to achieve our business objective of providing connectivity in so-called “Not-spot areas” that are not supported by other providers. We think the combined efforts of these two pillars of the community will make a real difference to the broadband connectivity of Norfolk homes, businesses, schools and churches.”

Jeff Henry, Chief Executive, Archant, said: “We have a powerful opportunity to build on the trust our business has with our local communities in dynamic and innovative ways. We will bring our marketing talent, our commercial acumen and our understanding of the community to WiSpire with the goal to accelerate rural broadband growth.
Simon Bax, Chairman, Archant, said: “I am hugely proud to see our business join with one of our great local institutions around a service area critical to our community. We share the vision of the Diocese to bring the benefits of technology to rural communities and I know the combination of our respected values, skills and ambitions will make this new venture a resounding success. I look forward to seeing our communities have increased access to rural broadband.”
You can find out more about WiSpire by visiting their website here


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