One of the unexpected phenomena that some kiwis have observed since the lockdown began is being described as a “rush” to get 5G cell towers up. In an environment where only essential work is being carried out, it looks like 5G rollout is considered essential.

5G isn’t without controversy though, and there has been a significant amount of anecdotal evidence posted online over the last year or so that claim to show some very questionable effects around 5G cell towers. The official line is always that the technology is safe, but many remain unconvinced.

The public pressure for more validation on 5G wasn’t enough to cause telecommunication companies to hold off, but it also seems like they are taking the opportunity to accelerate deployment while everyone is locked in their homes.

One logical reason that new towers might be needed is that during lockdown we’ll be relying on our telecommunications more than ever and those that do not have high-speed internet at home will be relying on these cell towers during lockdown. But that is not a very satisfying answer, especially given 5G has a notoriously short range compared to 4G and is easily blocked by buildings or objects, so without literally thousands of new towers going up at small intervals we’re not likely to see any improvement. It’s also not very likely that people are working remotely on mobile data as the cost would rack up so quickly that it wouldn’t be worthwhile. Given the national broadband network stretches across the country and provides excellent speeds at not-unreasonable prices, the justification of mobile data for home detainees doesn’t stack up.

One facebook post mentioned running into an acquaintance who was part of the installation crew for 5G towers, and when asked, the only response was that he “wasn’t allowed to talk about it”, which seems odd on the face of it. Since when do cell site installers have to keep quiet about the work they’re doing and avoid talking to the public?

It would seem that the most obvious answer to all this is that the telcos have realized they can avoid public scrutiny by hastily erecting towers while citizens are sequestered in their homes and unable to protest. By the time we all emerge from hibernation we’ll find a brand new wave of towers has arrived, signed off at the highest levels, and by then for those that are concerned about 5G it will be too late to voice their concerns.