Mobile operators join forces to combat 5G myths

5 February 2021   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Industry association Mobile UK aims to dispel some of the damaging myths around the 5G mobile broadband rollout.

Their new #5GCheckTheFacts campaign is designed to provide clear information to the public about the 5G rollout and why it is no risk to health.

It draws on research they commissioned in October 2020 to find out what the public thought of 5G and its benefits.

The campaign follows the widespread sharing of conspiracy theories during the coronavirus pandemic that has resulted in 5G masts being destroyed.

5g tower

Awareness campaign

The new awareness campaign is supported by all four mobile networks: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. All are members of industry association Mobile UK.

There are various sections of the campaign to answer different types of questions including:

  • What is 5G?
  • 5G radio waves
  • 5G masts and base stations
  • 5G and health concerns

Even the most complicated sections such as the one focused on 5G radio waves are designed to be user-friendly, so they use everyday language to explain how 5G radio waves work and include a useful diagram to show the different types of non-ionising radiation.

Another major element of the #5GCheckTheFacts campaign covers the various benefits of 5G. These have been split into mini packs:

  • How 5G will help the environment
  • How 5G could increase rural opportunities
  • Why 5G will help healthcare
  • How 5G will help councils
  • How 5G will improve the home and the workplace
  • How 5G will support the emergency services

All the information can be viewed on Mobile UK's website and has also started appearing on social media.

5G conspiracies

2020 saw a spate of attacks against 5G masts and base stations due to misinformation linking 5G radio waves with the coronavirus pandemic.

Just this month, another attack on a 5G mast in Chelmsford left thousands of homes without access to mobile services, although this has not yet been definitively confirmed as a conspiracy theory attack.

There are also regular battles when mobile operators try to install new masts in residential locations, with many local residents objecting to masts being built in their areas.

Part of this is due to the type of infrastructure needed to handle 5G broadband, with larger masts making the upgrades more difficult for mobile operators while also attracting more complaints for negatively impacting on the landscape or residents' views.

With the 5G rollout dependent upon communities cooperating when masts are proposed in their areas, the new #5GCheckTheFacts campaign aims to explain the benefits to local areas.

What is 5G?

5G mobile broadband is the fifth generation of mobile technology, which allows faster mobile speeds than ever before and offers major capacity improvements compared to 4G.

Mobile networks began rolling out 5G in 2019, although it has still only reached a fraction of the UK so far and is largely confined to busy, urban areas.

Nor have 5G speeds yet reached anywhere near to their potential, with the latest research from RootMetrics showing Vodafone have the fastest median download speeds of all four networks in an individual city with 216.6 Mbps in London. The theoretical top speeds of 5G are more than 10 Gbps.

More smartphones are being released with 5G capability such as Apple's first 5G-ready device, the iPhone 12 released in October 2020, and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) like Tesco Mobile have also begun offering 5G services to customers in certain areas.

We've got a full guide to which network is best for 5G. Click here to read more.

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