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Church spires in rural locations are to be equipped with broadband satellites to boost connectivity for local people.

Digital and Culture Minister Matt Hancock is to meet with the Church of England to discuss the idea of using 16,000 churches to help offer superfast broadband speeds to communities in remote locations.

This approach has already proved successful in some parts of the country.

For instance, the Church of England has set up WiSpire, a company that operates a broadband service from 47 churches across Norfolk which offers wireless internet coverage within a 2.5 mile radius.

If this method is adopted on a wider scale, it could prove crucial to helping the government achieve its goal of bringing superfast broadband connections to 95 per cent of premises.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Hancock commented: "Nine out of ten UK homes and businesses can now get superfast broadband, but getting to the hardest to reach places requires an innovative approach and a mix of technologies.

"We're working with the church to explore how spires might form part of the mix and I am meeting with bishops later this month to discuss this."

Sir Tony Baldry, chair of the Church Buildings Council, added that the Church is ready to help the government deal with connectivity issues in remote areas.

He pointed out that many of the government's contracts with county councils and other organisations are designed to achieve 90 per cent coverage.

However, he said the challenge of what is done with the remaining ten per cent still needs to be dealt with.

"For many of those areas there will be parish churches with church spires or towers that could serve as useful help for sorting out the Wi-Fi problems," Sir Tony commented.

"There have been meetings [with government figures]. We’ve made it very clear to the Culture Department that we are ready and willing to help tackle not-spots. 

"The ball is in their court as to whether they are willing to share with us where those not-spots are."

According to figures from Ofcom, 9.1 million homes across the country now have superfast broadband connections, compared with eight million a year ago.

The average download speed of a broadband service in the UK rose from 29Mbps to 37Mbps - an increase of 28 per cent.

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