US cell tower techs warned of 5G attacks

Tower technicians across the country could face attacks this weekend related to 5G protests, based on new warnings being issued to companies across the industry.

"NATE as an organization has heard through official channels that there are 5G Global Protest Day activities being planned throughout the country this Saturday, June 6, 2020," the association wrote in a release Thursday. NATE is a trade group that represents the nation's cell tower technicians. "NATE reminds our member companies and their employees 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 CEO Todd Schlekeway told Light Reading that the association heard about the issue from wireless network operators and tower companies, which he declined to name, as well as through social media outlets. He said the association and decided to issue the warning to its members "so they had an opportunity to talk to their employees/tower crews etc. prior to Saturday."

The release comes just a few weeks after the US Department of Homeland Security reportedly warned police around the US to be on the lookout for attacks against 5G infrastructure driven by the conspiracy theory that 5G causes the coronavirus.

Wireless Estimator, a publication that carefully tracks the US tower industry, reported that Ericsson will discontinue work on US cell towers throughout the weekend due to the issue, which Ericsson subsequently confirmed to Light Reading. The publication noted other companies, including T-Mobile and AT&T, are urging workers to be careful while conducting tower work.

Light Reading has reached out to several wireless network operators, tower companies and trade groups for details, including what precautions they might be taking. We will continue to cover this story as it develops.

It's unclear whether the 5G protests reportedly scheduled for this weekend are related to the bizarre, untrue claim that there is a relationship between COVID-19 and 5G. That myth has driven conspiracy nuts in the UK and elsewhere to burn cell sites and harass 5G technicians.

The cellular communications industry has long been dogged by concerns that cell phones can cause cancer and other illnesses. Those concerns have lately centered on 5G technology. In response, the FCC stated unequivocally last year that 5G does not pose a health risk.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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