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McKinney Exploring 5G Wireless Tech Options

The race is on to build the next generation of wireless networks and at least one Collin County city hopes to be on the ground floor.

Tuesday night, the McKinney City Council approved guiding principles to work towards implementing 5G technology. The principles include a caveat to investigate potential health concerns, based on citizen input at the meeting.

"We're already exposed to several different things: between our cell phones, our tablets, all of the smart appliances we have already," said Amie Abshire, a pharmacist and mother of two. "With 5G, there are going to be a lot more antennas or cells placed throughout the community just increasing our exposure to radiation."

The city is beginning to look into the future impacts of 5G technology, which promises super-fast internet speeds. The city will hire a consultant to look at a host of impacts of 5G, including possible health concerns, regulatory needs and how to minimize disruption to public and private property.

The city will also study the economic impact of 5G.

"I think the thing that excites me the most about 5G is innovation," said McKinney's Development Services Director Michael Quint. "The things that could come from this technology are potentially endless."

The city would initially target a 5G roll-out along SH 121, where the city hopes to bring in new corporations that are hungry for more bandwidth.

"As we look to grow the City of McKinney and we look to create a sustainable tax base for our community long-term, we want to be on the front end of this. We want to make sure the City of McKinney is positioned for long term success."

Quint says it would be years before a 5G network could be built. It would require a fiber network with smaller, shorter cell phone poles. The poles would be spaced closer together than traditional cell towers.

Quint adds the city will also look at minimizing the visual impact of a 5G network.

"Can they be stealth, can they be self-enclosed, can some of the equipment be buried? We are going to be exploring all of those options," Quint explained.

It's unclear how much the city would have to pay to investigate 5G implementation.

The goal, Quint says, is to partner with telecom companies to build the infrastructure needed for the next generation of wireless technology.

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