The 5G war is already underway, and it’s a cold war that has simply changed players. On one side is the same player, the US, while Russia has been solidly replaced by China. However, unlike the national pride and unity during the original Cold War, the US might be slowed down by local farmers, militias and various conspiracy theorists. Contrary to the established medical opinion on how the coronavirus is being transmitted, the less developed claim is that the virus is spread by 5G. But that is only a fraction of conspiracies surrounding 5G technology. Others include emitting radiation, killing wildlife, suppressing the human immune system in general ….
That is why US law enforcement officials are worried about the possibility of real-world violence.
In an intelligence report obtained by the media, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) alerted wireless telecom providers and law enforcement agencies about potential attacks on cell towers and telecommunications workers.
“Violent extremists have drawn from misinformation campaigns online that claim wireless infrastructure is deleterious to human health and helps spread COVID-19, resulting in a global effort by like-minded individuals to share operational guidance and justification for conducting attacks against 5G infrastructure, some of which have already prompted arson and physical attacks against cell towers in several US states,” the report said.
Still, it’s not only the US that faces threats to 5G infrastructure, nor is the DHS sounding alarm bells without reason.
In the UK, telecoms operators have reported several incidents in relation to their 5G towers. Since early April, nearly 100 cellphone masts have been set on fire. Similar incidents have now been reported in the U.S. More than a dozen cell towers in Tennessee and Oregon were purposely turned off between February and April.
Telecoms operators have also reported harassment of engineers laying fiber-optic cables by proponents of the theory that links 5G technology with coronavirus. Incidents were also reported in Australia, the Netherlands and New Zealand.
As always, the market has responded and there are several products targeting those whose view 5G as the Devil’s work.
Online retailers led by Amazon are selling hundreds of products that make claims to shield consumers from 5G mobile signals. Those include underwear, blankets and even a pill that protects users from electromagnetic radiation.
As far as the “space race” is concerned, in March and without much media attention, Trump signed off on the “National Strategy to Secure 5G of the United States” which formally frames how the country will safeguard fifth-generation wireless infrastructure at home and abroad.
The quietly-launched document outlines the president’s “vision for America to lead the development, deployment, and management of secure and reliable 5G communications infrastructure worldwide, arm-in-arm with [its] closest partners and allies.”
“Malicious actors are already seeking to exploit 5G technology,” reads the policy document. “This is a target-rich environment for those with nefarious motives due to the number and types of devices it will connect and the large volume of data that those devices will transmit.”
President Trump has also signed the "Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020," a bipartisan measure that mandates the administration firm up its 5G security strategy paving the way for the creation of a plan to secure 5G networks and protect related innovations.
Washington has alleged that China could use Huawei, one of the biggest phone makers and telecommunications kit providers in the world, to spy on other nations. The US has effectively blacklisted the company on national security concerns, and attacks on the company are picking up further momentum against the backdrop of the global pandemic.
Earlier this year, the US administration warned European countries that they could jeopardize their alliances with the U.S. if they used Huawei gear in their 5G networks.
While some countries, like Australia and Poland, have heeded the U.S. warnings, others continue to work with Huawei.
Telefonica Deutschland, which operates Germany’s second-largest wireless network, has chosen Huawei alongside Finland’s Nokia for supplying equipment to its 5G network.
Related: Could COVID-19 Lead To Authoritarianism?
The Deutschland move came as some European officials have said publicly that they would not follow the US in excluding Huawei from its 5G network rollout.
So far, no European country has formally blocked Huawei, and the majority of the company's current global 5G contracts are with companies operating within Europe.
In Africa, China invested $300 billion in the last decade and announced $60 billion more, meaning that China has more or less secured the continent’s connectivity.
US mobile providers such as AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, for example, are investing heavily in this area and have promised to make 5G a reality later this year.
However, they are still lagging behind Chinese companies.
According to Deloitte’s report from 2018, China has built 350,000 new cell sites, while the U.S. has built fewer than 30,000 since 2015.
China has earmarked some $400 billion over the next five years to build its 5G network. By the end of this year, China is expected to have 620,000 base stations to support advanced 5G capabilities. In the US, 5G progress has largely been limited to cities and sports stadiums, with the investments coming from the private sector.
Last year, Trump’s 2020 campaign team renewed its controversial pitch on nationalizing the country’s 5G network. In other words, the government would have control of 5G airwaves and lease access to private wireless providers.
For Trump, 5G is a convenient political talking point to stir up a nationalistic furor over a race with China and the rest of the world.
Much of China’s power comes from the fact that the government controls everything. But the suggestion is that if America wants to beat China, it has to become China, and nationalization is the first step.
By Michael Kern for Safehaven.com
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