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Cell towers being upgraded but no new ones installed during lockdown

Telecommunication companies aren't installing any new towers during the level 4 lockdown, but they are upgrading some old ones to cope with demand.

A cellphone communications tower (file). Source: istock.com

5G technology is the latest upgrade for cell towers, following 3G and 4G. Vodafone rolled it out at the end of last year and Spark is set to follow suit this year.

However with the nationwide lockdown, everything has ground to a halt.

Only essential services are operating and spokespeople for Vodafone and Spark both confirmed to 1 NEWS they're not installing any new towers, despite contrary rumours.

"We can 100 per cent confirm we're not installing 5G towers at all," a Vodafone spokesperson said.

But that doesn't mean there's no work underway on cell towers.

There's been a spike in demand for connections, as more people work from home and others swamp the demand with streaming services.

Because of this, some existing 3G towers are being upgraded with 4G technology so they can handle more and faster connections.

None are being upgraded to 5G.

"While our network is built to handle traffic peaks, these sustained increases are putting strain on some cell sites and so in areas of high demand we need to undertake essential repair work or upgrade existing 3G sites to include 4G technology," the Vodafone spokesperson says.

Addressing concerns from some people, a Spark NZ spokesperson said there's "a lot of misinformation out there about 5G".

"We strongly encourage people to get their information from official sources such as New Zealand’s Ministry of Health, the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor or the World Health Organisation."

Keith Petrie, professor of Health Psychology at the University of Auckland, said studies show there's no relationship between ill health and electromagnetic fields from cell towers.