UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom has revealed 159 operator masts have been attacked so far in 2020 as a result of Covid-19 (coronavirus)-related and general anti-5G conspiracy theories, causing base station downtime adding-up to 170,000 hours.
In its annual Connected Nations report assessing the state of the country’s mobile and fixed networks, the authority revealed the scale of vandalism to mobile infrastructure in 2020 attributed to baseless claims.
“Over this year, a number of unsubstantiated claims [related to the pandemic] have circulated, often through social media,” it noted. “Prior to this, there were also false claims that the Electromagnetic Field (EMF) emissions of 5G base stations posed an increased risk to people’s health.”
As the pandemic took hold, there were reports from the UK and a number of other countries of vandals taking down or setting fire to infrastructure apparently inspired by conspiracy theories linking 5G to Covid-19.
Elsewhere in the report, Ofcom said the UK’s fixed and mobile networks had remained resilient during the pandemic. Fibre and 5G rollouts also continued apace despite the challenging circumstances.
By the end of 2020, it expects around 3,000 mobile sites to be transmitting 5G signals across the market’s four operators, around ten-times more than at the end of 2019