Ericsson suspends weekend field work amid reports of 5G protests

Ericsson said its U.S. and Canadian field staff will not be doing any on-site work over the weekend except in the case of emergencies after reports surfaced that 5G protests are planned.

NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association issued an advisory to its members Thursday about Global 5G Protest Day activities reportedly planned for this Saturday, June 6.

“NATE as an organization has heard through official channels that there are 5G Global Protest Day activities being planned throughout the country this Saturday, June 6, 2020,” the advisory states. “NATE reminds our member companies and their employees to remain safe, exercise vigilance and report any unusual or suspicious activities that they witness when traveling to and working at tower sites this weekend.”

NATE’s bulletin came after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning several weeks ago to telecom companies, wireless contractors and the technician workforce that cell tower/wireless infrastructure sites could be potentially subject to attacks based on some incidents at tower sites around the world, including Canada. Earlier this year, numerous cell towers in the Memphis, Tennessee, area were set on fire.

It’s against this backdrop that NATE has been closely monitoring social media activities and issued the warning, according to NATE President and CEO Todd Schlekeway. NATE also has heard directly from many of its members, including wireless carriers, tower owners and large general contractors, about exercising caution and additional planning due to the Global 5G Protest Day scheduled for Saturday.

Many of the estimated 1,000 NATE member companies are busier than ever right now as essential service providers of communications infrastructure, and they're expected to be working at tower sites around the country throughout the weekend, according to Schlekeway. With that in mind, “the Association wanted to be proactive and send an advisory bulletin out to our members so employers and managers have an opportunity to talk to their employees/tower crews etc. prior to Saturday,” he explained.

As an organization devoted to safety, quality and professionalism, “we just want our member companies to be prepared, safe and exercise vigilance while traveling to/from and working at tower sites this weekend,” he said. “We want the tower crews to report any suspicious activities they witness near tower sites to local authorities and not resort to confrontational tactics.”

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Ericsson, a member of NATE, made its tower business a prominent part of its presence at MWC Los Angeles last fall; it employs more than 600 tower climbers and is making efforts to grow its ranks.

In a statement provided to Fierce, Ericsson said that “due to the current situation in U.S. and Canada,” it decided that field staff will not do any work onsite during the weekend, and they will only be making exceptions on emergency work. “We have done an overall assessment together with our partners and customers in an abundance of caution to ensure the safety of the field personnel,” the company said.

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NATE’s warning was issued the same day FCC General Counsel Thomas Johnson Jr. penned an opinion in the Washington Post about the harm caused when people stoke fears about the supposedly harmful health effects of 5G. The same kinds of fears were brought up during 3G and 4G deployments and seem to ignore the FCC RF emission standards for antennas and devices.  

RELATED: Marek’s Take: 5G deployments are reigniting the RF emissions health debate

The debate over 5G’s health effects comes as some celebrities and others even went so far as to link 5G to COVID-19. Last month, the London-based GSMA issued a statement condemning acts of violence on communication networks, saying it’s a time to unite against the fight against COVID-19 and combat fake news. England’s National Medical Director Stephen Powis called the stories linking 5G to COVID-19 as nonsense and “complete and utter rubbish.”