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Municipal 5G bans during the Covid-19 pandemic: the case of Italy

Gerli, Paolo



Several sources have reported an increase in the opposition to the fifth-generation (5G) amongst local communities following the outbreak of Covid-19. In Italy, more than 300 municipalities banned 5G rollout from their territory between April and June 2020. Researchers have described this phenomenon as resulting from the infodemic caused by the pandemic, however, local protests also accompanied the rollout of the previous generation of mobile communications. This paper uses document analysis to explore the local debate on 5G municipal bans and map their evolution in an Italian region. This study aims to unravel the complexity of this phenomenon and inform future research on the actors and factors underlying the opposition of local communities towards 5G.

The analysis focusses on Marche, a region in Italy where, by July 2020, 25% of the municipalities had banned 5G rollout. This analysis is based on secondary data, retrieved from multiple online sources (articles from the local press, public statements and press releases, minutes from local council meetings and resolutions from local councils).

The analysis revealed that concerns on the safety of electromagnetic fields predated the pandemic, although these concerns may have increased the sensitivity of local communities towards health issues. The local debates on 5G involved many actors from the civil society, including environmentalists that had long campaigned against wireless technologies and local politicians playing a proactive role in leading and coordinating the adoption of resolutions against 5G.

This paper addresses an emerging phenomenon, such as municipal bans against 5G, that has not yet been explored in academic literature. Researchers have recently investigated the propagation of conspiracy theories on 5G on social media, but little has been said on the factors and actors shaping the debate on 5G within local communities.


Gerli, P. (2021). Municipal 5G bans during the Covid-19 pandemic: the case of Italy. Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, 23(6), 553-573.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 8, 2021
Online Publication Date Oct 25, 2021
Publication Date 2021-12
Deposit Date Dec 7, 2021
Journal Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance
Print ISSN 2398-5038
Electronic ISSN 2398-5038
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 6
Pages 553-573
Keywords Covid-19, 5g
Public URL