Wireless Technology & 5G

Wireless Technology & 5G Q&As

Updated July 23, 2020

1. Why is the city interested in enhancing the city’s wireless technology?

People and businesses are reliant more than ever on wireless communication. This includes increased access to broadband internet like enhanced 4G and 5G capabilities, robust and secure wireless coverage, fiber optic cabling and the technology that makes it all possible.

Most individuals utilize a cell phone in their daily life, and enhancements to wireless technology are in response to market demand. McKinney wants to maintain our high quality of living standard, which includes adequate wireless coverage and being a place that businesses want to call home.

2. What wireless capabilities do we currently have?

The city currently has traditional cell towers that operate within the 4G LTE bands.

3. What cities in the area have this or are pursuing this?

In North Texas, Dallas has been named one of the first 5G cities by carriers such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. Cities that are exploring enhanced wireless coverage and capacity include; Plano, Allen, Frisco, Lewisville, The Colony, Little Elm, Richardson and Farmers Branch.

4. What are state and federal regulations regarding wireless technology?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an order on September 27, 2018, that limits the fees and establishes permitting timelines for the deployment of wireless infrastructure in the public right-of-way.

In 2017, the Texas State Legislature Passed SB 1004 that grants wireless providers access to the public right-of-way to deploy wireless infrastructure.

At the local level, on May 21, 2019, the McKinney City Council adopted guiding principles for the city’s efforts in evaluating enhanced wireless technology infrastructure (i.e., 5G). Furthermore, the city has established a set of requirements within its wireless service design manual and code of ordinances that regulates wireless technology infrastructure in McKinney. 

5. Are there effects on health in areas serviced by enhanced wireless technology?

The FCC published “Wireless Devices and Health Concerns” stating there is currently no scientific evidence that establishes a causal link between wireless device use and cancer or other illnesses.

However, one of City Council’s guiding principles is to evaluate enhanced wireless technology infrastructure, such as enhanced 4G LTE and 5G, specifically related to any health-related impacts of the technology. Because of this, our third-party consultant completed the following 55-page Health Report.

6. What is a small cell wireless node?

Technology like a 5G network requires more frequent but smaller cell sites, called small cell wireless nodes, compared to previous generations that required fewer, but larger cell towers.

These small cell sites pair a telecommunications radio with an antenna, usually either a flat panel or canister model. These are placed at various locations and connect with both fiber optic cables and power to broadcast a signal. Small cell nodes are generally set to provide expanded coverage and capacity in areas where the cell towers cannot currently reach.

7. Where can these small cell nodes be placed in the city?

Small cell nodes are regulated by state and federal law, and the City of McKinney also has a robust ordinance that regulates infrastructure placement in the public right-of-way. A visual representation of where small cell nodes are allowed in the public right-of-way can be found on the city’s GIS web page.

8. Do these small cell nodes emit radiation?

Small cell nodes generally emit the same level of radio frequency (RF) emissions as existing cell towers. Both sets of infrastructure are required to be within the FCC’s RF Emissions Standards.

9. What would the cost be to bring this technology to the community, and who will pay for it?

At this time, the city is not paying for enhanced wireless technology infrastructure to be deployed. This infrastructure is typically used at the sole cost of potential providers and carriers.

10. Why is the city hiring a wireless implementation consultant?

The city requested a proposal of qualifications for the development of a strategic plan to assist in guiding any future enhanced wireless technology development. HR Green, Inc. was selected by the City Council on October 15, 2019 to assist the city in completing a strategic plan that includes a review of current ordinances, policies, design manuals and a review of health-related topics.

11. What are the next steps for the city?

The city, with the assistance of its outside consultant HR Green, Inc., is in the process of developing an enhanced wireless technology (i.e., 5G) strategic plan. An updated on this strategic plan occurred at the July 21, 2020 City Council Work Session.

12. Will I be given the opportunity to provide input on this issue?

Yes. In addition to formal Council consideration regarding these items occurring in open meetings, the city also hosted a citizen town hall during February 2020. The city continues to respond to citizen requests relating to enhanced wireless technology.