While some in the health and technology sectors have raised concerns over the proliferation of next-generation “5G” wireless broadband networks, providers across the world have found themselves victims of conspiracy theories claiming that the high-speed equipment was contributing to the spread of coronavirus.
In Lavallette, concern over the installation of a town-wide 5G network by Verizon Wireless has led to an all-out debate over the issue, a new ordinance on where nodes (small boxes resembling cell phone antennas that would be installed on utility poles) can be placed and even the threat of litigation. Last week, Lavallette joined the U.K., New Zealand and Ireland in becoming one of the places where 5G nodes were vandalized – only the vandalized property wasn’t a 5G node at all.
It all started when a Verizon truck pulled up to a utility pole on Baltimore Avenue last Friday.
“There was some concern that they were installing a 5G node at that location,” said Borough Administrator Robert Brice.
“There was some vandalism done to that box,” he went on to say. “The borough did need to go out and clean it up. Verizon told us immediately what the box was – there is no need for anyone to be vandalizing property.”
In fact, the box the Verizon crew was working on was not related to wireless access at all. In fact, the utility pole where the work was occurring could not even physically support a 5G node.
“We’ve spoken to Verizon and they are enhancing their overall capabilities in the area, switching from copper to fiber-optic,” said Brice. “Eventually, Verizon plans on having a whole 5G system, so every pole could conceivably be part of that system, but this isn’t directly part of a 5G deployment.”
Councilwoman Joanne Filippone said the Verizon crew itself may have contributed to the misunderstanding.
“The Verizon workers there told all the people in the neighborhood that it was a 5G box,” said Filippone. “I suggest Verizon tell their people what they are doing so they don’t get the citizens in an uproar over something that could have been avoided.”
The misidentification of 5G nodes resulting in vandalism is not limited to Lavallette. In New Zealand, a similar situation occurred, when a 4G network box was damaged in an arson attack. There were also more than 20 attacks on wireless equipment recorded in the U.K. just last week.