(TNS) — Along with construction cranes raising its apartment buildings and hotels, developers behind Frisco Station in Frisco, Texas, are focused on another ingredient they see as essential for the mixed-use development: Laying the foundation for fast, reliable Internet.
Developers of Frisco Station and Dallas-based AT&T announced Thursday that the $1.5 billion master-planned community will be one of the first in the country that's built from the ground up with infrastructure for 5G. The next-generation mobile network will help support the insatiable demand for video streaming, growing number of connected devices from digital assistants to refrigerators and emergence of new technologies, like autonomous cars and trucks.
Frisco Station is on Dallas North Tollway and surrounds The Star, the Dallas Cowboys' headquarters and practice facility. The 242-acre development is being built by developers VanTrust and Hillwood and landowner Rudman Partnership. It will include office space, apartment buildings, hotels and retail, restaurant and entertainment space.
The infrastructure, such as dense fiber and small cells, will help make the developers' vision for Frisco Station possible. Along with apartments and hotels, the site will include a 30-acre park with public Wi-Fi. Nearby, developer Hillwood and tech giant Uber plan to build a transit station where people can board an urban air taxi that shuttles them through the skies. And in the future, self-driving cars may roll around the development to pick up and drop off people. Silicon Valley-based Drive.ai is already testing its autonomous vehicles by driving around employees of Hall Park, a neighboring office campus.
The mixed-use development will be completed over the next seven to 10 years, Hillwood's executive vice president Russell Laughlin said. A seven-story office building opened its doors in December and a new apartment complex, Station House, is renting one- and two-bedroom apartments. A Marriott Residence Inn is expected to open in late winter or early spring, he said.
When it's finished, Frisco Station will have an estimated daytime population of more than 15,000 people and about 3,500 residents will live there, according to the developers.
Laughlin said the technology will help "future-proof" Frisco Station so it stays on the leading edge and attracts top companies to its office buildings.
"Today, it is about being able to recruit and retain human capital," he said. "Get these young, next-generation employees who are mobile, smart and boy can they consume data. That's just the world they live in. Their world is now driven by 'How do I get these people to be my employees and how do I retain them?'"
For AT&T, Frisco Station is unlike any other project that it's done to prepare for 5G, company spokesman Tyler Jacobson said. He said it's unique because of the campus' size and scale and because it is being built along with new construction rather than retrofitted later.
5G is not available yet — but it's getting closer. Dallas-based AT&T and its rivals are spending billions to build out their network by laying fiber, installing small cells and upgrading cell towers. AT&T has said it will roll out mobile 5G by the end of 2018 in Dallas and other major markets. It is testing the technology in an Austin lab and has pilots underway, including one at HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Market at The Silos in Waco. Smartphones and tablets that are compatible with 5G are expected to hit store shelves in 2019 and 2020.
AT&T will invest an estimated $15 billion to $18 billion in the network this year — more than any other carrier, according to Roger Entner, a telecom analyst for Recon Analytics. He estimated that Verizon will spend about $14 billion or $15 billion, followed by T-Mobile and Sprint with roughly $5 to $6 billion.
But AT&T has said customers will see the benefits of the investment, such as faster speeds than traditional 4G, even as they wait for the next-generation network.
©2018 The Dallas Morning News Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.