Another 5G mast has gone up in flames in Liverpool in the UK, in this case mere days after it was erected.
Firefighters were called to the mast after nearby residents reported hearing a large bang, followed by smoke and flames. According to police, a suspect was seen fleeing the area on an electric bike, wearing black clothes.
The mast, which was damaged but not destroyed, was located on Brodie Avenue, situated in the heart of Liverpool's affluent Mossley Hill area. Signage on the attached cabinets indicate it was jointly operated by EE and Three.
EE told The Reg: "Mindless attacks deliberately removing mobile signal is a reckless, harmful and dangerous thing to do and aside from the obvious risk to our colleagues could have serious consequences, from preventing a call reaching the ambulance service, to stopping families being able to talk to each other.
"These senseless crimes are creating unnecessary risk to human life, both to those that live in the areas being targeted and to the emergency services working to contain the situation. Every incident is being reported by our teams and we are increasing security at high risk sites."
"Our guard patrols have been supplied with body cameras and will immediately alert the local police force to any suspicious activity."
Merseyside Fire Service confirmed to the Beeb the fire had been started deliberately.
Interestingly, The Register has unearthed a pending planning request from O2's parent firm, Telefónica Limited, to place a mast of its own on the same road. Given the current circumstances, it's plausible it is having second thoughts right now.
The motivation behind why this mast was damaged is unclear, although it likely has something to do with the widespread (and false) conspiracy theory linking COVID-19 to 5G mobile technologies.
Liverpool has emerged as a hotbed for these conspiracies. Several phone masts in the city have been destroyed by arsonists, including ones that were serving bog-standard 3G/4G signals.
Earlier this month, a man pleaded guilty to arson in Liverpool Crown Court after he torched a mast belonging to Vodafone. Michael Whitty, 47, from Kirkby, was warned that a custodial sentence was inevitable when his case resumes in June.
As this publication's sole Merseyside-based correspondent, this enmity towards 5G is something I've witnessed personally. Anti-5G graffiti is everywhere, particularly as you drive into the city centre.
A lack of digital literacy is part of the problem. If you haven't grown up with the internet, it's often difficult to distinguish fact from fiction online, particularly when you're spun a convincing story by sophisticated bullshit merchants, like David Icke and that slick-talking "Vodafone exec" who turned out to be a cryptocurrency-loving evangelical pastor from London.
But some would argue that mistrust in institutions plays a significant role here. There's little trust in "the establishment", particularly in a city like Liverpool, where generations of neglect from central government has fostered a "them and us" atmosphere in some quarters.
And when people can't trust institutions, some will inevitably drift towards fringe ideologies, swallowing wild conspiracy theories. ®