While deployment continues unabated across the U.S., a small coalition of groups and leaders are trying to put the brakes on 5G in a bid to learn more about the technology.
The COVID-19 pandemic and 5G technology found themselves unlikely bedfellows earlier this year, as more than 70 cell phone towers in the United Kingdom and Europe were burned by those who blamed network rollout for the spread of infection.
The arson attacks brought a rebuke from Mobile UK, the trade association that represents UK telecoms providers. In a statement, the group called the attacks "senseless," and said that links between COVID-19 and 5G are "false and have been continuously rebuffed by scientists."
Such retaliations have come at a social cost. Mobile UK spokesperson Gareth Elliott said in an email that there have been 130 arson attacks and over 200 instances of "abuse to staff." Elliott did not have a cost estimate for the tower repairs.
The attacks, an extreme reaction, were the result of rumors started on social media and other internet outlets that linked the technology with the global health crisis. And while the United States has not yet seen any reported copycat attacks of tower arsons, the Department of Homeland Security and NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association have both warned of such activity, particularly during the 5G Global Protest Day on June 6 this year.
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