back to article Ecclesiastical judge tells church: Let there be Wi-Fi

Messages to Norfolk's churches won't just be heaven sent in future, they'll also be wireless broadband signals after a judge ruled against objectors' Wi-Fi health fears. The Wispire project, a plan to attach Wi-Fi kit to churches to provide wireless broadband, sent radiation-fearing objectors running to a consistory court to …


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  1. nichomach

    "ESUK had not responded to...

    ...a request for comment at the time of publication. "

    Be fair - RFC1149-based communication takes longer....

    1. Robert A. Rosenberg
      Black Helicopters

      RFC1149 is the IP over Avian Carriers (AKA homing pigeon) Protocol

      For details see: <>.

      1. Alister Silver badge

        @ Robert Rosenberg

        Yes, we know.

        Did you miss the joke??

  2. ScissorHands

    One more reason to go to church

    Much fact-checking on iPhones will ensue during the preaching - for those who are listening to it instead of browsing El Reg.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Richard Dawkins was sent to amuse and entertain us.

  3. hplasm Silver badge


    The Wi-Fearers wouldn't go outside into the seething radiation hell that exists beyond their caves of steel!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      No, too much radiation there too (Radon)

    2. Jan 0

      Maybe 30 years or more of roasting by the Postwick AM and FM transmitters has finally killed the protestors.

  4. ian 22

    Does this mean...

    We will soon see a .god domain?

    1. Cunningly Linguistic

      The domain...

      ...doesn't exist!

      1. Oninoshiko

        Is it bad that I read that

        "A .god damnain"

  5. Arnold Lieberman

    ESUK had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

    I'm guessing that you'll be waiting for the postman to deliver a handwritten reply. After all, electricity is invisible and therefore evil magic.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no "consistent evidence"??

    A more accurate statement would be no evidence whatsoever. The few publications on EM exposure that ever have claimed to see an effect relied on ad hoc "estimates" by the people doing the study, not on actual data.

    1. Code Monkey

      "no evidence whatsoever"

      That's proof enough for a lot of the church's beliefs...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Idle thoughts...

      How ironic it would be if -in 30 years time- our attitude towards filling the airwaves with electromagnetic noise is met with the same 'how did they not realise?' incredulity that we treat tobacco adverts of the 50s.

      There's no evidence that it's 'bad', aside from a few people seemingly being very susceptible, but then; we are a capitalist gadget-happy information-craving society which doesn't really care to investigate in much detail the down-sides of our wireless data bliss.

      I wonder in the future if people will try to 'quit' Wi-Fi or limit themselves to 1MB a day, while those already pure impose wide-scale Wi-Fi bans and social pressure; complaining about the health effects of 'passive Wi-Fi'.

      1. Fuzzysteve

        Difference is, people have tested it. And in all double blind tests, no-one's proven that it affects them.

        1. The last doughnut


          There is no mechanism known to physical science whereby weak EM waves can affect living tissue. While we do have a very good understanding of both.

  7. Ian Ferguson

    "ESUK had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication"

    Whoa, whoa, give them good time for their carrier pigeons to return.

  8. MMcA

    More masts = more safety

    By far, the most EM you receive is from holding that little microwave transmitter right next to your head. It dwarfs the dose you get from masts, even if you're stood under one.

    The closer the mast, the less power the phone has to use. One bar of signal means the phone is transmitting on full-blast - not desirable. Five-by-five signal means lowest-power transmissions and the greatest safety.

    It's not the masts which are the problem. The lack of masts is the problem.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      > It's not the masts which are the problem. The lack of masts is the problem.

      Radiation risk from mobiles is nothing to do with the lack of masts because there is no problem. Full stop.

      Microwave radiation has a million times too little power to break atomic bonds (the only way radiation can cause cancer). The most it can do is cause a little warming and the human circulatory system is very good at removing heat from all parts of the body.

    2. Displacement Activity

      More masts != more safety

      I haven't been in wireless for over 10 years, but my recollection is that your phone always pumps out the full ~2W when it's trying to establish a connection with a mast. It doesn't just know that there's a mast there. It stops shouting when the mast responds. Having more masts wouldn't make a difference.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Insert standard jab about irrational superstitions here.

    (I'm religious myself, but I had to get that one in first.)

  10. Silverburn
    Thumb Up

    In other words...

    Imperical testing, evidence and expert testimony = WIN

    Making shit up because you're a paranoid bible basher = FAIL

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Let's take up a collection for these poor peeplz

    Let us take up a collection for these poor, accursed people, and buy a nice island somewhere far from the powerlines, cell tower, TV stations, and WiFi of the modern world. Let us offer to move these people to this island of tranquility, that they may be assured their precious bodily fluids aren't being contaminated by that awful radio-ations.

    Once these overly sensitive people are all safely ensconced within their Nu Utopia, with "no lights no phone no motorcars", we can allow them to enjoy their new life. Oh sure, they will tire of darkness at sunset (but think of this like this: you are no longer being exposed to the output of an unshielded fusion reactor!), and may complain about the darkness.

    We can then assist them by providing a light in the darkness - preferably something about 20MT yield.

    I'd suggest using Bikini Atoll for the relocation.

    1. The Fuzzy Wotnot


      Same mob who object to shops opening on Sundays yet they're OK to use the electricity, water and gas on a Sunday for their Sunday roast and also rely on the Police, fire brigade and hospital staff to bother turning up to work if the cooker burning up their Sunday roast goes a tad AWOL!!

    2. Silverburn



      Yeah, yeah, I know the way...

  12. Dances With Sheep

    Charity ?

    *Charity* Electro-Sensitivity UK ?

    A charity no less!

    What is even more amusing is that they have a web page..... no doubt best viewed without the aid of any harmful electrons.

  13. HaplessPoet

    If you live in a city..

    Wouldn't you be bombarded from every direction by wifi just walking to your local chippy?

    Then you'd have cellular frequencies (and power) on top of that.

    Adding a church into the mix can't make a huge difference can it?

    (Actually even in the countryside there are lots of signals)

  14. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    What was he referring to ?

    " In this case the views and reports produced by the objectors from many different sources were not available for cross examination or evaluation.

    The court, therefore, had to decide which evidence it preferred. The court concluded that it preferred that of the live evidence of experts in their field, whose testimony the court was able to examine and evaluate, and went on to accept."

    Oh, not the god botherers but the way that Wiffy is a conduit of the devil.

  15. TedBovis

    Only in Norfolk

    I managed to get out of Norfolk before the `fear` of all things new set in, things like light bulbs that go off and on with the flick of a small switch or mobile phones and the wheel.

    I can only hope that the dangerous Wifi will keep these people locked away in thier houses in fear of thier lives so they never have a chance to spout any more rubbish!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So will they be blocking porn and other "undesirable" stuff sent over the wifi connection? Can't have the church allowing such stuff can we?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What do you need experts for in Ecclesiastical court ?

    I clicked the link to see what bible study would say about wifi, and now they have these "experts".

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In ESUK's defence...

    It was pretty evil of them to schedule the case in a court which has 2 mobile masts on the roof :o)

  19. rurwin

    This relates to WiFi, but the arguments are the same as for mobile phone masts. In fact the WiFi signal is likely to be much lower power -- tens of watts would probably be more than enough.

    On the other hand, we don't hold our laptops to our ears most of the time, and one supposes that the ESUK members don't own laptops with WiFi anyway. So any new WiFi signal is adding to the background level. We might say it is perfectly safe, and not adding appreciably, but we can not say it does not add.

    The case of mobile phone masts is far more clear cut, and since I wrote a blog piece recently on the subject, complete with maths, allow me to include a link:

    1. Adam Foxton

      Actually, we CAN say

      that WiFi power output will never exceed a certain value.

      number of channels x maximum power output of a device connected to these channels. Even if you have 200 devices connected to the same AP, they can still only talk one at a time on a given wavelength- so the overall maximum power is no different for 200 taking turns than it is for 1 talking all the time.

      So with 13 channels and a 0.1W maximum output (figures plucked from a quick google search; may be bullturds- but your 'tens of watts' thing would lead to phone batteries lasting minutes rather than hours!), that gives a massive... 1.3W of power added to the background noise- if you were fully saturating every frequency that can be used by WiFi. Which is less than one mobile phone that's struggling for signal, and a tiny fraction of what the human body puts out as heat (a significant proportion of which will be radiated or absorbed by surrounding materials and re-radiated later as Infrared !!!RADIATION!!!). There's probably more EM being generated by the church power cables.

      1. rurwin

        > but your 'tens of watts' thing would lead to phone batteries lasting minutes rather than hours!

        You are assuming the device on the church must have the same power output as a phone WiFi signal. That is not the case, and for this application, where the signal has to go a mile or two, the signal level used by a phone is probably not sufficient even if it is line of sight.

        If all they were doing is putting a normal WiFi router on top of the church, there would not need to be any permissions sought. So I think it is more likely that this uses significantly more power than is allowed in normal unlicensed WiFi devices.

        But as I said, tens of watts, not the two kilowatts that some mobile phone masts can put out. Because they don't have to multiplex hundreds of channels.

        But whether it's 1 watt or 30 watts, it's a long way away from anyone. If the nearest house is 100m away, even 30watts would only be equivalent to a 3 milliwatt transmitter one metre away.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Read the article...

    Errr... did I read a diferent article?

    Why is everyone assuming its the churches (who are getting paid) and their congregations who are opposing this... I guess you also assume the land owners who get paid for the 3G masts who object to those as well...

    The article clearly states it was Charity Electro-sensitivity UK (ESUK) along with others who were opposing this in a ecclesiastical court and speculation could just as easily be that the "others" are home owners who have no affiliation to the church but live nearby.

    1. lotus49
      Thumb Down

      Why would the assembled commentards bother actually reading the story and obtaining evidence for their unwarranted attack on the churchgoers of Norfolk? It never ceases to amaze me how ready people are to attack the church or churchgoers without any recourse to the facts for not basing their beliefs on the facts before them. Perhaps faith is good enough for Reg readers but not the "God botherers".

  21. Maty

    Didn't the reg report a case a while back of a mast going up and many local kiddies came down with 'radiation sickness'?

    Turned out that the mast hadn't been powered up yet ... .

    People with this mentality were burning witches a few generations ago.

  22. fellswoop

    Have faith

    The judge should have said "man, you guys will believe anything!"

  23. Tasogare


    While the objectors are stupid, I don't really understand why anyone would want this. I'm not religious, but isn't most of the point of church that you take some time to get away from worldly concerns and contemplate spiritual ones? It seems to me that available wifi would invite the world into the pews. Like leaving your cell on in a movie theater, or when you're on vacation. WTF?

    1. Alister Silver badge

      re: Uh?

      I think you miss the point.

      In rural Norfolk, and in other rural areas around the British Isles, Churches (with towers / spires) tend to be the tallest buildings around, and therefore make ideal ready made towers for good signal propagation to outlying villages and farms. A lot of these places do not have broadband available over copper / fibre, so WiFi is the only option.

      This isn't about providing WiFi for churchgoers, but for residents who otherwise would not get any Internet at all.

    2. Captain Thyratron


      It's church. The wifi is the vacation!

    3. Graham Dawson

      They're usong churches because they're a convenient tall tower that's usually close to the people that these wifi schemes are meant to serve. It's why a ot of steeples also gave phone masts installed - they provide coversge wthout fhe mast being a visible eyesore.

  24. philbo

    I guess the Lord's Prayer will need an update, then

    Our WiFi

    Which art in chapel

    Cisco be thy name

    Thy standards be


    Broadcast at 2.4GHz

    Give us this day our IP address

    And forgive us our porn downloads

    As we forgive outages in communications

    And lead us not unto malware

    For now comes the distributed

    Denial of service

    For ever and ever


  25. Syldra


    Allow me to clear this up a bit, if you will...

    From what I gather, it's not so you can browse the web while attending, it's for communities that don't have broadband access available, then they could have an antenna at home and connect to the church's WIFI and get access. The church is for the height only... for coverage.

    Thank you !


  26. nichomach

    There is a certain wry amusement... be derived from watching a bunch of smug, self-satisfied tossers happily decrying the irrationality of churchgoers supposedly blocking the Wispire project when in fact it's the Christians (the Anglican Diocese of Norwich, FFS) trying to get it installed for the benefit of the surrounding community while a SECULAR organization (ESUK) tries to stop them...

  27. NoneSuch


    I love it. You will be burned at the stake for that..., but I still love it.

    1. philbo


      ..but I'm sure I'll get burned at the stake for something else. Or stoned. Or something.. I get far more heretical than this :)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love a bit of sky fairy bashing as much as the next (rational) bloke but please lay off the church in this case, they are doing what they (in theory) are supposed to do e.g. looking after the welfare of parishoners. As for ESUK, well as far as I'm concerned the jury is still out. I have never seen any reliable evidence of sensitivity to wireless radiation but given the relative newness of some of the frequencies being used I am loathe to dismiss it out of hand. Deep inside I really believe they are a bunch of hypochondriacs but I am happy to be proved wrong.

  29. illiad

    more double blind tests needed..

    Like the one where they said it was going to be on by this timetable..

    1st week: On: mon, wed, fri, sun.

    2nd week: on continuously

    3rd week: off

    4th week: On: mon, wed, fri, sun.

    5th week: off

    6th week: On: mon-tues, fri-sat.

    A number of people reported strange effects during these times, and felt much better during the 3rd week.. of course, phones were banned during the experiment - its a BLIND test!

    THE TESTERS LIED...... :) :) the transmitters were NEVER switched on until the 3rd week! during the 3rd week, they were switched as for 1st week then 4th week was on continuously, then off for the rest.. :)

    Just shows the power of paranoia.. :)

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We made WiFi harmless

    by disabling the lights. The complainer thought that it was off and their headaches stopped.

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