Wireless broadband goes to church

Cardiff, UK - A vicar in Cardiff is offering wireless broadband access from the pews of his church, alongside traditional weddings, christenings and Sunday services.

Reverend Keith Kimber had a wireless node installed in the north aisle after discovering the church's 4ft-thick walls blocked a city-wide signal.

He hopes the connection will encourage more people to join his flock at St John's Church in the city centre.

Rev Kimber said: "The church is a sanctuary for everyone."

Cardiff city centre and parts of Cardiff Bay are now covered by more than 100 wireless broadband points following a joint project between Cardiff council and BT Openzone.

However, Rev Kimber found he was unable to go wireless while working on his computer in the church because its thick walls blocked the signal, except when the external door was left open.

The vicar, who uses his laptop to write sermons and create orders of service, said: "I couldn't do my job without one and it has made me more aware of other people's needs.

"The church is a sanctuary for everyone, including business people with laptops and mobiles who may want to find a quiet area without lots of noise and loud music to sit in peace and do some work or just send an e-mail."

Rev Kimber approached BT about filling the gap in Cardiff's wireless broadband network and the company fitted the church with its own Openzone node to link it to the airwaves.

Now anyone with a wireless-enabled laptop can access broadband by sitting in the corner of the north aisle at St John's.

Rev Kimber said: "This church has a strong commitment to be open for people in the city, and of course, if this will encourage more new people into the church, the project will have been a success.

"All we ask is that they respect the church environment and do not to use loud mobile ring tones or play music on their computers, especially when a service is in progress."

Ann Beynon, BT's director Wales, said Cardiff has become one of Britain's leading cities in wireless coverage.

"It's fitting that people on the move can stop anywhere, even a city centre church, and access their e-mails in peace and quiet without wires," she added.