Company to bring 5G antennae to Topeka

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The future of wireless internet is coming to Topeka whether city officials approve it or not.

Deputy city attorney Mary Feighny told city council members about the plan Tuesday night.

"It's the start of what's called 5G which is a new era in telecommunications,” Feighny said.

A company called ExteNet wants to install antennas on utility poles posted along the streets. Then, wireless companies like Sprint, Verizon and AT&T rent them.

"The idea is to make things faster and to eliminate things like dropped calls and hopefully facilitate better internet access,” Feighny said.

ExteNet is offering a franchise agreement with the city. If approved, Topeka will get 5 percent of their quarterly rental fee and the company will abide by the city's rules and regulations.

But there's not much the city can do to enforce those or stop it.

"The bottom line is state and federal law require the city to provide access to these infrastructure providers,” Feighny explained.

5G signal doesn't reach as far as 4G LET, so ExteNet may want to add poles. According to state and federal law, they can.

"Aesthetically it may not be very pleasing if you have a whole lot of poles,” Feighny said.

It's causing concern for some council members. With the way technology is going, updates could come more often and have a bigger impact.

"Is there any way the city can control this,” asked Karen Hiller. “Because we have a lot of utility poles, pipes, boxes, popping up all over."

Other cities around Kansas are asking the same questions.

Hiller suggests they band together and talk to congressional representatives to have more design control.

Council members expect to vote next week.