Back in 2016, several major phone carriers approached the city of McAllen, Texas, about building state-of-the-art 5G wireless networks. With the promise of ultra-fast internet connection speeds and an array of potential commercial and public applications, city officials eagerly entered into discussions about amending local ordinances to accommodate the necessary infrastructure. Months later, they were close to reaching an agreement on establishing a large-scale pilot program.
It all started to unravel, though, when McAllen and other Texas cities heard about a proposal in the legislature setting statewide rules for 5G installation and prohibiting local governments from negotiating their own deals. McAllen City Attorney Kevin Pagan says the wireless providers initially assured him they weren't interested in asking for state legislative help. But then the bill started gaining traction. Company representatives stopped responding to Pagan's emails about the licensing agreement, and he says he hasn't heard from them since.