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New era for rural broadband provider WiSpire

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InTouch Systems manage the ITSwisp and ThinkingWISP broadband services covering East Anglia and targeting ‘not-spot’ areas, providing fast, reliable broadband to homes and businesses in rural Norfolk.

In 2011, the Diocese of Norwich responded to the challenge of improving internet access for rural communities by establishing broadband provider WiSpire. Since 2015 the company has been jointly owned by Archant and the Diocese.

Last month the Government and the Church of England signed an accord highlighting the important role church spires can play in delivering digital connectivity in rural areas. Read more about the agreement here.

Speaking about the sale, Richard Butler, Diocesan Secretary (Chief Executive) of the Diocese of Norwich and a Director of WiSpire said:

“We are proud of how far WiSpire has come since founding it in 2011. 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. We look forward to working with them.”

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James said:

“WiSpire has heralded a revolution in connectivity in rural locations. It’s good that it’s been recognised by the Government and this new transfer of the business embeds it in the life of Norfolk.”

Steve Temple, Director of InTouch Systems said:

“Churches are perfectly situated to benefit people in rural communities, like in South Norfolk. 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 procurement of WiSpire is a positive step forward, supporting and accelerating our continued growth plans to expand the InTouch System’s ITSwisp network, providing fast, reliable broadband, to even more rural and urban areas.

“Working together under InTouch Systems’ direction, we are all committed to delivering the best for our customers and this next stage in our journey marks a very exciting time, for both our business and increased connectivity opportunities for residents and businesses in our area.”

The addition of WiSpire will see InTouch System bolster its 23-strong team to 30 people and enable upgrades to existing mast power sources and equipment to give increased speeds, as well as giving additional capacity to support customers.

Churches have historically been at the centre of communities and in many rural areas where current broadband speeds are very poor church towers provide an ideal platform to enable rural communities to access WiFi.

Installing WiFi in churches can also help protect Norfolk’s rich heritage of medieval churches from theft and vandalism through networked surveillance cameras monitoring the interior and exterior of the church.