The wireless industry is getting set for a Global 5G Protest Day planned for tomorrow. The protests are prompted by social media rumors citing a link between 5G signals and COVID-19. And although such claims have been discredited, stakeholders aren’t taking any chances.
For example, wireless network equipment supplier Ericsson, which also deploys its equipment for wireless operators, reportedly has halted construction for today and tomorrow as a means of protecting workers.
And NATE – The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association issued an advisory statement to its members, advising them to “remain safe, exercise vigilance and report any unusual or suspicious activities that they witness when traveling to and working at tower sites this weekend.”
NATE members are “on the front lines playing a major role deploying the communications tower infrastructure, equipment and technology essential to enable high-speed, 5G mobile service in the United States and throughout North America,” the statement explains.
The Global 5G Protest Day comes at a time when police in many communities are stretched thin after days of protests, which in some cases turned violent, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. If attacks on wireless network infrastructure were to interrupt cellphone service, it could endanger lives by cutting off emergency communications and could exacerbate the volatile situations that have sometimes arisen in recent days.
The Washington Post reported previously that the World Health Organization has stated that viruses cannot travel via radio waves or mobile networks. For evidence, the WHO has noted that COVID-19 is appearing in countries without advanced wireless networks.
The Department of Homeland Security and Infrastructure Security Agency previously advised wireless operators to protect network infrastructure by installing appropriate sensing and barriers, along with cyberintrusion detection systems and video surveillance technology and to monitor drone activity near towers, the report also noted.
A scholarly article published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research explored how misinformation about 5G and COVID-19 was spread after identifying a seven-day period in late March to early April when the #5GCoronavirus hashtag was trending on Twitter in the United Kingdom.
The researchers found that 35% of sample tweets expressed the view that 5G and COVID-19 were linked, 32.2% denounced the theory and 33% did not express an opinion on the issue. Fake news websites were the most popular web source shared by users, although YouTube videos also were shared. The researchers also found one account whose sole purpose was to spread false information about COVID-19 and 5G.
Researchers said that arguing against conspiracy theorists on social media actually helps spread rumors and advised anyone seeing such posts to report them to the social media platform. Policymakers were advised to insist on “isolating opinions that are based on fake news.”
Hopefully, the U.S. wireless industry has learned from what occurred in other countries and will be prepared for Global 5G Protest Day.