North Devon’s MP has slammed anti-5G campaigners for their ‘false information.’ Speaking in the House of Commons last week, Selaine Saxby (Conservative) asked a government minister what steps it was taking to improve broadband and mobile phone coverage in rural areas.
Ms Saxby explained that the mobile signal in her village is: “so poor that if I move my head when making a call I am instantly disconnected.”
“To have 5G is a dream, yet we have more anti-5G campaigners in North Devon than in almost any other part of the country.”
She asked: “What is my honourable friend [the minister for media, data and digital infrastructure, Julia Lopez] doing to improve mobile connectivity in villages such as mine, alongside dealing with the false information perpetuated by anti-5G campaigners?”
The comments come after a broadband mast in Barnstaple was attacked four times in four weeks last year, disrupting ultrafast fibre-optic connections for thousands of people in the area.
The firm hit – Airband – said it wasn’t sure why the mast was targeted as it had no links to 5G, but vandalism has been linked to conspiracy theorists who oppose 5G technology, linking it to covid and other health issues.
Scientists have rejected the claims, with one last year telling the BBC that the link to covid was “complete rubbish.”
In response to Ms Saxby, the government minister said: “The government are working hard to give people great connectivity whether they live in a rural, suburban or urban area.
“We are doing this by making it easier for operators to roll out infrastructure, focusing public subsidy on connecting the hardest to reach areas through ‘Project Gigabit’, connecting schools and public buildings through our GigaHubs programme and working with commercial partners on the shared rural network to tackle mobile not-spots.”
Ms Lopez added: “[Selaine Saxby] raises a really important point about misinformation and how it can stifle the roll-out of fast, reliable networks, which can substitute for poor broadband in areas like hers.
“I spoke recently at a conference with local councils on how to support the 5G roll-out. My department shared with them public health guidance to bust and counter some of the myths about 5G.
The minister said the shared rural network would see the government “jointly invest” £1 billion in mobile networks alongside industry, with all four operators covering 87 per cent of North Devon by the end of the programme.
Ms Saxby has raised the issue of internet and mobile connectivity a number of times in parliament, recently criticising the government’s “piecemeal” approach to high-speed internet in North Devon.