An arson attack on a cell tower in an Auckland suburb has caused an outage of some mobile phone services.

A Spark spokeswoman said the arson attack was made on the cell tower in Māngere in the early hours of Tuesday morning, and had been reported to police.

"While the majority of customers continued to be served by the surrounding towers, some customers will have experienced loss of service of voice, text and data," she said.

"Spark has been working with police about threats made to some of our cell sites, as well as some instances of arson. Generally, damage has been fairly negligible, but this is the second event which has caused an outage in the surrounding area."

Spark is dealing with an outage in Māngere. Image / Google
Spark is dealing with an outage in Māngere. Image / Google

Spark is monitoring the sites and working to protect staff.

"We think that acts of vandalism against critical infrastructure like cell towers is outrageous, particularly during a pandemic – a time when connectivity is more important than ever."

Spark is deploying a temporary cell tower tomorrow to provide additional capacity to the local area while the permanent cell tower is repaired.

The mobile outage is affecting some 3G and 4G customers in Māngere.

The attack is the latest in a string of incidents in which cell towers have been damaged, some linked to anti-5G movements.

The Spark spokeswoman said they had received no threats relating to the tower in Māngere, "5G or otherwise".

Anti-5G protesters have been linked to two other incidents - the destruction of a new 4G celltower in the Far North last month, just before to due to be switched on, and an arson attack on a cell site in Manurewa - whose protagonists posted a video of their efforts to Facebook.

Attacks on cellphone towers are happening worldwide, as bogus stories tying 5G to the coronavirus outbreak gain currency on social media.


In the UK, there have been about 80 incidents of celltower arson or vandalism since the start of the outbreak.

Vodafone UK chief executive Nick Jeffery described attacks on 5G towers as a "matter of national security", and said police and counter terrorism authorities were investigating the attacks, which Jeffery labelled the work of "deluded conspiracy theorists".

Here, phone company executives have been more reserved in their public comments.

The most overt link was drawn by Geoff Thorn, head of the Telecommunications Forum, which represents Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees.

"We know that damage to mobile networks in other countries has been linked to groups opposed to 5G," he earlier said.