In March 2020, almost overnight, the pandemic forced an unfounded level of uncertainty into all of our lives. This instigated the circulation of conspiracy theories, causing some to think that 5G masts had the potential to spread the virus. According to a survey conducted by the Commission for Countering Terrorism, approximately 37% of respondents were aware of this theory and one third thought it was credible.
This sparked a dramatic increase in criminal behaviour toward 5G mast sites and they quickly became vulnerable to vandalism and arson attacks. Shockingly, in April 2020 alone, 50 masts were targeted, causing disruption to thousands of lives, homes and essential services.
One example of the extreme vandalism was the April 2020 attack on a 5G mast providing essential mobile connectivity to an NHS Nightingale hospital in Birmingham, disrupting its crucial services. This was one of 20 suspected targets in one weekend. This demonstrates the urgent need to ensure these sites are properly protected.
5G masts are considered a critical infrastructure yet they’re frequently targeted by vandals due to their positioning in remote, poorly lit areas, often without robust security systems installed. The mast sites take up to 18 months to construct from scratch and three months to repair. Therefore, it’s essential that appropriate, protective fencing and high-security systems are specified and installed to deter criminals. This will help prevent any long periods of time without coverage.
Various networks are trialling different methods and approaches to attempt to secure these masts. In 2020, Jacksons’ Fencing was appointed to secure a 5G mast site for a telecoms company in Gloucestershire.
Jacksons Fencing worked on this project to protect the site from unauthorised access and intruders by installing secure perimeter fencing. EuroGuard Combi fencing, which combines steel V mesh panels with timber slats, was specified to conceal the site. This type of fencing also prevents equipment used for vandalism or arson, such as hooks or wires, from being passed through it.
Using high-quality materials for each fence panel, such as zinc alloy coated mesh and pressure treated, kiln-dried timber works to protect the fencing from rust, corrosion, rotting and insect attacks. Panels are secured to posts using unique mesh clips and anti-vandal fixings which can only be accessed from inside the site, making it far more challenging for intruders to break and enter.
5G sites are in high demand and in use around the clock. With this in mind, they require continuous maintenance and frequent upgrades. At the Gloucestershire site, double leaf gates were installed to allow enough room for the maintenance teams to gain access with their vehicles. These gates are polyester powder coated green, this provides an additional layer of protection, which shields the metal fencing from the elements and gives it a warmer aesthetic.
Value for money
All Jacksons Fencing products are guaranteed for 25 years, providing low lifetime cost due to a reduction in repairs and replacements later down the line. This is ideal for this industry where companies often have a responsibility to care and maintain hundreds of 5G masts and service boxes.
Peter Jackson, Jacksons’ Fencing Managing Director, comments: “It was a real privilege to be involved in this hugely important project which aimed to secure and protect this critical infrastructure.”
“Hearing that these new 5G sites are becoming a target by vandals is disappointing, but I am delighted that Jacksons’ Fencing has been able to help with this issue by installing fencing and security solutions to protect the mast and those around the Gloucestershire area.”
He continues: “We hope that with the security solutions we’ve implemented, people in the area, their homes and the service industry can continue without any disruption as a result of lost connectivity. Working closely with the telecoms company’s team means the 5G mast is fit for purpose for the community now and well into the future.”
To find out more about Jacksons Fencing’s 5G mast solutions see here.