Verizon strikes multimillion-dollar deal to accelerate fiber, small cell deployments in San Diego

San Diego city officials joined Verizon to announce a multimillion-dollar deal to accelerate the deployment of small-cell facilities and fiber networks in the area. The deal also lays the groundwork for future smart city solution deployments.

Verizon will enjoy a streamlined permitting process for small cells, which Verizon says will help expedite wireless technology accessibility throughout San Diego. The revamped permitting process will reduce review times for Verizon proposals to install or cosite small cell wireless facilities on city-owned street furniture.

But surprisingly, the small cells won’t be for 5G, at least not initially. Verizon’s SVP of engineering, Ed Chan, said the company plans to densify its 4G LTE networks in the area, but did note that the network densification is “foundational to the future deployment of 5G network technology here.”

Under the deal, Verizon will work with the city to improve its IT and public safety infrastructure. Verizon is giving the San Diego Police Department 500 smartphones, and it’s giving the Fire-Rescue Department 50 tablets, in hopes of improving department communication. Verizon has also agreed to install advanced traffic data gathering and sensing technologies at five intersections, to help the city assess vehicular patterns and traffic flow. 

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Verizon will also update and digitize the city’s inventory of roughly 60,000 light poles, as well as deploy fiber and small cells to poles. All told, Verizon said it’ll make a $100 million infrastructure and equipment investment.

“Working together with Verizon, this agreement is going to provide resources that will further enhance cellular service for residents, keep communities safer and lower costs for taxpayers,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said in a statement.

The deal is similar to others Verizon has struck with cities like Boston and Sacramento. In June 2017, Verizon struck a deal with the City of Sacramento to install hundreds of miles of fiber in the area, provide free Wi-Fi access across 27 public parks and deploy Verizon’s “Intelligent Traffic solutions” at select intersections in the city. In return, the city waived up to $2 million in lease payments on Verizon’s small cells on city-owned assets.

RELATED: How the city of Sacramento got to 5G, and what it means for the rest of the U.S.

Late last year, Verizon announced it had expanded a deal with the city of Boston to deploy more Fios fiber in the city, densify its 4G network in the area with small cells, and collaborate with the city on smart city solutions. In exchange, the City of Boston promised to reduce red tape in its small cell permitting process.