Four in five constituencies in Devon, Somerset and Cornwall could be left behind by the digital divide if 5G is not rolled out quickly to rural areas.

New research by Vodafone UK reveals that the majority of these areas, housing some of Britain's most deprived and poorly connected communities, urgently require a speedy 5G deployment.

South West MPs Richard Foord and Sarah Dyke voice their backing for the research, which spotlights the critical need for rapid 5G introduction.

A proposed partnership between Vodafone UK and Three UK paves the way to bridge the digital divide distinguishing rural and urban areas.

Delivering over 95% 4G geographic coverage by 2027, and 95% 5G standalone geographic coverage by 2034, this deal could reach 99% of the UK population.

As per Vodafone's study, Connecting the Countryside, 838,000 individuals inhabiting the country's most deprived, rural regions could reap immense benefits from an accelerated 5G roll-out, including improved remote GP consultations and online learning.

Somerset County Gazette: A proposed partnership between Vodafone UK and Three UK paves the way to bridge the digital divide

Reflecting on the research, Andrea Dona, chief network officer of Vodafone UK, said: "We believe everyone should have access to connectivity and our research shows the alarming rate at which almost a million people living in deprived rural communities are being left behind.

"It’s clear we need to accelerate the roll-out of the UK’s 5G infrastructure, which is what we commit to do as part of our proposed merger with Three UK.

"We would close the rural digital divide by delivering 95% 5G Standalone geographic coverage by 2034."

Adding her perspective, Sarah Lee, Director of Policy & Campaigns at Countryside Alliance, said: "For far too long rural communities have been left behind when it comes to digital connectivity and are often unable to access the most basic of services online which many people take for granted.

"Those living and working in the countryside on the receiving end of this poor connectivity are only too aware of the benefits that the fast rollout of a nationwide 5G network could bring to their community and it is now time that these communities are connected."

Coming out in support of the cause, Richard Foord, Liberal Democrat MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said: "Rural communities across the UK, such as those in my corner of Devon, deserve the same level of connectivity enjoyed by the rest of the country.

"It is crucial that the UK delivers improved connectivity and 5G across the countryside communities that I represent."

Echoing his sentiments, Sarah Dyke, Liberal Democrat MP for Somerton & Frome, highlighted the necessity for her constituency to enjoy a comparable level of connectivity to urban Britain.