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5G 'will make a massive difference to Scilly'

Islanders could have medical operations without having to go to the mainland in years to come, according to Vodafone.

The company is expected to launch 5G in the islands later this year.

Senior Manager Dr Rob Matthews told Radio Scilly that the new technology will revolutionise healthcare on Scilly in the future, with the possibility of surgeons operating from Plymouth or elsewhere through the network.

"In rural communities it tends to be that the specialist has to come to the area or the individual has to travel. You will be able to have multiple operations happening consecutively where you have people performing it from other parts of the UK, even New York going forward. It’s going to make sure that people can live the sort of life on the islands that the mainland would have without ever leaving, and I think that’s the most important thing that 5G could bring for local communities."

Rob added that 5G is in its infancy but has the potential to make a "massive difference" to the islands in time.

"It will improve the experience you would have at home as we start to see faster data rates. You'll be able to download box sets, watch video and access wirelessly all the services you would do over a fixed broadband connection. For residents I’m absolutely aware of the improvement in migration that 5G is going to give rural areas. Essentially you’re going to be able to do everything you would do in central Plymouth, central London, from here but more."

"You could for instance control a manufacturing process that’s happening in Aberdeen or Manchester. It’s not beyond the wit of man that fishing could become an automated industry where you can control it from the mainland so you’re putting fewer people at risk and control the boats and nets."

The upcoming launch of 5G is not without controversy. A petition from campaign group Villages Against Masts aiming to stop the rollout in Cornwall and Scilly due to health concerns currently has 2,300 signatures.

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