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Minister quashes 5G conspiracy theories

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupa'i, has warned members of the public against spreading conspiracy theories about the alleged connection between 5G technology and the coronavirus. 

The theories have been circulating on social media for the past few weeks, with Samoan users joining the global debate, after cellphone towers in the United Kingdom and Australia were destroyed as a result.

During an interview with the Samoa Observer, Minister Afamasaga said some people have posted on social media that some masts and towers owned by telecommunication companies in Samoa are 5G. 

“We don’t have 5G," the Minister said. "The Government is worried about people destroying our infrastructure due to these fake news.

“Our biggest concern is that the service providers are working really hard in upgrading work due to the increase of users online for those working from home and students studies and the last thing we want is someone destroying those infrastructures.

“They are expensive equipment and I ask that people calm down because we don’t have 5G in the country. They should stop spreading these fake news on 5G conspiracy theories.” 

According to the Minister, Police are monitoring online activities of people who continue to make these false claims. 

Afamasaga urged the public to be cautious about what they read online as a lot of the materials are not legitimate and are created by groups with a hidden agenda. 

“Some of these claims and posts can lead to violence and ultimately the loss of life,” he said. 

“We don’t want that at this stage. We are working on preventative measures for COVID-19 and some people are using this theory that has no scientific proof. There have also been no discussions on 5G coming into Samoa and we are quite happy with the 4G that we have…”    

 The Office of the Regulator, had also expressed concern over the 5G technology issue. 

“”To date there is no authentic link between COVID-19 and 5G technology,” said Acting Regulator, Fesolai Cecily Fa'asau, in a statement. 

“In addition to this 5G has not been launched in Samoa and therefore there are no equipment in operation.”

The 5G technology is the latest wireless mobile phone technology first widely deployed in 2019, said the Acting Regulator. 

She pointed out the 5G is expected to increase performance and wide range of new applications including strengthening E-health.  

“Our telecommunications service providers are working tireless around the clock to keep vital health, education and emergency services in operation, as well as ensuring friends and families continue to communicate as we try to endure the COVID-19 threat.  

“Because of the fake news that have been circulated about 5G and its connection to COVID-19 we are witnessing in other countries people are destroying critical infrastructure that keeps them connected.”

Fesolai emphasised that it is important that people understand that there is no 5G threat in the country urging not to destroy critical infrastructure at this time of difficulty when it is mostly needed. 

Vodafone Samoa had also issued a statement saying that all its sites are still on 4G and 4G+ networks. 

“None of them are on the 5G network, nor was any installation carried out by Vodafone Samoa,” said the company. 

“We humbly ask that you please refrain from believing all these conspiracy theories/ rumors. “These claims are baseless.”

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