Voneus, the rural community broadband specialist, has this week announced that it has entered into a partnership with twelfth-century Wells Cathedral to bring transformative, superfast broadband services to the Cathedral, as well as to the residents and businesses of the City of Wells.
With a population of just over 10,000, Wells is the UK’s smallest city. Like many other of the UK’s rural communities, it has patchy access to high-speed broadband services. According to Ofcom, approximately 1,000 of the 6,593 premises within the city’s limits cannot access Superfast broadband services (those with speeds above 24 Mbps); while 41 buildings suffer connection speeds of less than 15 Mbps.
Voneus’ partnership with Wells Cathedral solves this problem by bringing Superfast Fixed Wireless Access broadband services to the whole of the city, without the long lead times and high levels of disruption associated with laying fibre optic cable. A small, unobtrusive transmitter located on the top of the Cathedral’s tower, which – at 55 metres – is the highest point in the city, can now beam broadband to any building with a direct line of sight, offering uncontended speeds of between 30 and 50 Mbps to residential homes, and up to 100 Mbps to local businesses, which include many retailers, cafes, galleries and light industrial units.
Transforming Wells into a digital Cathedral
Like many other premises in the city, Wells Cathedral itself also suffered with slow broadband speeds. By leveraging Voneus’ Fixed Wireless Access broadband services, the Cathedral – a Grade I listed building that dates back to the 1176 – has started to transform the experiences of employees, members of the congregation and visitors alike.
High-speed Wi-Fi will be available throughout the Cathedral and its grounds. As well as making it quicker for staff to process enquiries and tour bookings, this also makes it easier for the on-site shop and restaurant to process card payments. Visitors can even donate using contactless payments, as well as via the more traditional collection plate.
“With Voneus’ help, we’re turning Wells into a truly digital cathedral with stronger connections to our local community as well as to people living much further afield,” said the Very Reverend Dr John Davies DL, Dean of Wells.
Environmentally sympathetic infrastructure
Voneus has worked closely with Cathedral authorities, as well as Historical England, to ensure that its fixed wireless broadband infrastructure is environmentally sympathetic to the Grade I listed building as well as to the wider city. The transmitter installed on top of the Cathedral tower is almost invisible to the naked eye and has been specially designed to blend into the fabric of the building. Unlike fibre optic broadband, which requires roads to be dug up, Voneus’ services can be deployed almost immediately, requiring only the installation of a small, discreet antenna on the outside of the home or business premise.
“We’re delighted to be working alongside Wells Cathedral to bring superfast broadband to the homes and local businesses of Wells, as well as to the Cathedral itself,” said Steve Leighton, CEO, Voneus.
“This project is a fantastic example of the important role church buildings can play in connecting communities suffering from poor broadband coverage.”
Voneus is an authorised supplier – and the only nationwide wireless broadband provider – included on the Church of England’s Parish Buying scheme. Cathedrals, churches and other religious buildings located in communities with poor connection speeds can find out how to bring unobtrusive, environmentally sensitive superfast broadband to their buildings and communities by visiting: https://www.parishbuying.org.uk/categories/phone-and-broadband/wireless-community-broadband