HUNDREDS of people lost network coverage or experienced connectivity problems after arsonists callously set fire to a mobile phone mast.

The O2 mast in Brightlingsea was recently set alight, leaving surrounding businesses and communities temporarily without coverage.

The blaze also damaged the site, feeder run and part of the building it was located beside.

The the mast provided critical 3G, 4G and 5G connectivity for residents and business in Brightlingsea, as well as for O2 customers in Point Clear, including the Orchards Holiday Village.

More than 500 customers could have been impacted and potentially experienced disruption due to the fire.

A fire investigation was carried out following the blaze and O2 engineers were able to review the extent of the damage and replace the permanent site with a temporary solution to restore connectivity for those affected.

Echo:

Emma Evans, head of network experience at O2, said: “Sadly, a number of customers in Brightlingsea may have experienced weakened connectivity following an attack that took place on a mast in the area.

“This mast connected local residents and businesses to our 3G, 4G and 5G networks, which work together to keep the country connected, support the economy, help vulnerable people reach loved ones and allow essential services and providers to respond to those in need.

“Thanks to the work of O2 engineers, a temporary site has been set up that will restore the award-winning service that our customers rely on.”

She said O2 is working with Essex Police to find the perpetrators of the blaze which happened on March 10.

“These attacks on important network infrastructure represent criminal damage and put the community at risk,” she added.

“The conspiracy theories are not based on any recognised science or logic.

“They harm the ability of vulnerable people to keep in touch with loved ones and prevent emergency services from effectively responding to those in need.”

O2 is planning to rebuild the permanent site at a later date.

A spokesman said the spread of false 5G conspiracy theories has led to attacks on masts across the UK.

Over the past year 40 per cent of all mast attack incidents were within 2km of an emergency service - such as a hospital, fire station or police station.