- San Jose, CA will enter into separate agreements with AT&T, Verizon and Mobilitie for what the city says is the largest small cell-driven broadband infrastructure deployment of any U.S. city.
- The partnerships will put small cells on 4,000 city-owned light poles and will bring more than $500 million of private sector investment.
- AT&T, which had reached a tentative partnership with San Jose in April, will form a full public-private partnership (P3), including using small cells to lay the groundwork for mobile 5G service. Verizon will install small cells, fiber and upgrade larger cell towers for its 4G LTE network. Mobilitie will deploy small cells in traditionally under-served areas to increase connectivity.
San Jose made public-private partnerships (P3s) a key part of the Broadband and Digital Inclusion Strategy it adopted last fall, noting their potential to build out infrastructure faster and at a lower cost. The trio of agreements builds on a preliminary agreement the city reached with AT&T in April, but bringing in more companies means San Jose can deploy even more infrastructure than AT&T would have offered, while also giving its consumers more options. With many wireless providers exploring the rollout of a faster 5G network, multiple providers means more consumers could get quicker access to the upgraded network, which could be 10 to 100 times faster than the city’s existing service.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement that he hopes the partnerships "can serve as a national model for equitably deploying next generation broadband technologies in a way that puts the public’s interest first." Having multiple competitors working in different innovation zones in the city could also create competition that will bring better solutions to the city.
A key part of the deals is a new Digital Inclusion Fund, meant to bring broadband access to the 95,000 San Jose residents who do not have broadband internet at home. The three companies will contribute roughly $24 million to the fund over the next decade, with a strategic plan being submitted to city council later this year on how the money will be spent to increase access and education.
Beyond broadband deployment, the partnerships will also include smart city solutions; Verizon said it will work on pilot programs around traffic management, while AT&T will try a number of smart cities programs including LED Smart Lighting and public Wi-Fi. More P3s can help that nascent technology reach the mainstream.