A 5G Optus tower in the suburb of Dickson in Canberra.
The global 5G network and a UN agency are the subjects of another false claim. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS

Claims WHO runs 5G network are ‘nonsense’

William Summers June 14, 2024

The World Health Organization runs the world’s 5G network.


False. No single organisation controls the 5G network, which was developed by multiple technology companies and research institutions.

AAP FACTCHECK – An Australian playwright and activist claims the World Health Organization (WHO) controls and operates the global fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications network.

The claim is false. No single person or organisation runs 5G – the network was developed by multiple global technology companies and research institutions.

The WHO is a UN agency that promotes health and safety, and coordinates responses to global health emergencies. It plays no role in the operation of the 5G network.

Playwright Michael Gray Griffith made the claim in a Facebook video discussion published on May 21, 2024.

Facebook Cake Locked out video screenshot crossed out.
 The claim about the WHO controlling 5G came during a long video posted on a Facebook page. 

“The organisation that runs 5G all around the world – and this isn’t rabbit-holing – is the WHO,” he said (2 hours 13 minutes 4 seconds in).

“So, the World Health Organization is in charge of 5G all around the world.”

Mr Gray Griffith runs the Cafe Locked Out Facebook page, which has previously published misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and politics.

When asked for the basis of his claim that the WHO controls the global 5G network, Mr Gray Griffith told AAP FactCheck he was unable to reveal his sources due to “ethical” reasons.

Introduced in 2019, “5G” refers to a global wireless technology protocol used for mobile and internet services that offers faster speeds and better response times than 4G.

The Australian government describes 5G as “not a single product but rather an industry standard against which telecommunications companies (known as carriers) roll out 5G technology with equipment that uses radio waves”.

A photo of seated women pointing their phones in the same direction.
 Experts say 5G is a protocol used by mobile and internet service providers. 

University of Sydney telecommunications expert Professor Branka Vucetic describes the claim that 5G is controlled by the WHO as “total nonsense”.

She says 5G protocols were developed by the 3GPP, a consortium of standards organisations, which continuously updates the standard to ensure compatibility across 5G networks worldwide.

The networks are run by mobile operators over radio frequencies allocated by national government agencies.

In Australia, 5G frequency licences are allocated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

“Many companies worldwide make 5G equipment, including networks and devices,” Prof Vucetic told AAP FactCheck.

Associate Professor Philip Branch, a telecommunications expert at Swinburne University of Technology, agrees the claim is false.

“That’s not how telecommunications networks work,” he told AAP FactCheck.

“Telecommunications companies like Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, etc. run 5G networks around the world.

“The WHO has nothing to do with it.”

World Health Organization logo displayed at the Geneva HQ
 The WHO has many roles, but running 5G is not one of them. 

Dr Branch says telecommunications systems have “highly prescriptive standards” that specify exactly how they work.

“It might seem to someone not familiar with it that there must be some overarching body who controls it all in order to make it work. But there isn’t.”

WHO spokesman Paul Garwood says the claim is “untrue and misleading”.

He says the WHO “provides scientific and health advice, convenes experts and coordinates risk assessments” but plays no role in running 5G networks.

“WHO only provides advice. WHO does not control 5G networks. Such claims are false,” he told AAP FactCheck.

The WHO set up the International EMF Project in 1996 to assess evidence of possible health effects from exposure to electromagnetic fields, including 5G, but it does not control any networks.

AAP FactCheck has previously debunked claims that 5G towers emitted dangerously high levels of radiation.

The Verdict

The claim that the World Health Organization runs the world’s 5G network is false.

Experts say no single person or organisation controls 5G.

The network was developed by multiple global technology companies and research institutions.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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