Verizon, San Diego Ink Small Cell Deal

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The city of San Diego will streamline small cell permitting in a deal with Verizon. In exchange, the carrier will spend more than $100 million to install up to 200 light poles with small cell network gear to improve cell coverage. Verizon will also give 500 smartphones to the San Diego Police Department and 50 tablet computers to San Diego Fire-Rescue.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced the deal in a news conference Monday, reported The San Diego Union-Tribune. “Verizon is a partner in our effort to enhance wireless capability and lay the groundwork for the future of 5G wireless,” said Faulconer. “This agreement is going to increase services and expand our smart cities capabilities, at no additional cost to taxpayers.”

Verizon plans to install 4G LTE small cells in San Diego under the new program, said Verizon SVP Engineering Ed Chang. The small cells can be upgraded to 5G technology — either through software updates or the addition of 5G radio equipment. Verizon will own the poles. In the future, it will provide traffic pattern analysis and other data to boost San Diego’s smart cities capabilities, according to the account.

Verizon launched 5G services in Chicago and Minneapolis last week, Inside Towers reported. The carrier expects to expand to 30 more cities by year-end.

Verizon and San Diego officials have been talking for months about ways to speed up the small cell and fiber link permitting process, reports the Union-Tribune. Plans include updating some building codes and allowing master permits where the installation of several, similar small cell street-light poles in a neighborhood would fall under one permit, said Ron Villa, assistant chief operating officer with the city.

Villa described a pilot in Mission Valley to permit a whole area at once. “It will be to the advantage of other carriers as well. If we can get this to work, there will be other carriers that will be welcome” to use the streamlined permitting process, Villa said.

Published April 10, 2019

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