BT workers are being verbally and even physically abused after spurious online claims linking the spread of the coronavirus to 5G masts, a senior executive at the company has told Sky News.
Marc Allera, chief executive of the company’s consumer division, said the “nonsense theories” had also resulted in a spate of vandalism on the masts.
Mr Allera said he feared the attacks could mean 999 call resources being diverted at a critical time when emergency workers are focused on battling the pandemic.
He told Sky’s Ian King Live: “We’ve had vandalism on masts, we’ve had employees – these engineers, these key workers working so hard – have had verbal and in some cases physical abuse.
“At a time where all of us need data and communication and the internet and connectivity more than ever before, we have got masts being vandalised and in some cases set on fire.
“Can you imagine, a 999 call right now not getting through because some vandal has set fire to or destroyed one of our masts? That would be unimaginable.
“It’s really disappointing that we are seeing some of these crazy theories out there.
“There is no evidence at all to back it up.”
He said BT had been working with Facebook, YouTube and Google to shut down sites promoting the conspiracy theories.
Mr Allera added that BT’s broadband network had seen a huge spike in demand during the coronavirus with almost double the amount of traffic as in normal times
The uptick in usage came was the result of people working from home as well as playing games such as Call Of Duty and Fortnite, and streaming services like Netflix and YouTube.