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ULTRA UNRELIABLE: How a bad deal with Verizon has cost San Diegans, three years later

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"Ultra Unreliable": Three Year Review Shows Verizon Failing to Deliver in San Diego 5G Partnership

CWA | November 22, 2022

A new report from the Communications Workers of America (CWA) analyzing San Diego’s 2019 5G public-private partnership with Verizon found evidence suggesting that over the course of the ten year partnership the public is likely to provide more than $1 million in subsidies to Verizon. Three years into the deal, the City of San Diego has been unable to produce records showing the value of any Verizon-provided community benefit. Additionally, there is no evidence that Verizon’s network is making meaningful progress toward closing San Diego’s digital divide, and the deal continues to lack any support for local workers in the hiring process or any requirement that Verizon or its contractors pay family-supporting wages and benefits.

The report provides three recommendations to address the partnership’s shortcomings and ensure that San Diegans are made whole moving forward:

  1. The City should conduct a review of the deal to answer crucial outstanding questions about contractual obligations, as well as questions around network deployment priorities, with a focus on whether deployments have taken place in underserved neighborhoods, and if local workers were hired for the work.
  2. The City should use the findings of the review to determine the City’s fiscal position and prepare for contractually required Right to True-Up negotiations with Verizon, set to begin January 2023.
  3. The City should establish an ongoing monitoring process that allows for public input to hold Verizon accountable for the remainder of the deal term through 2029. Further, the City should consider what measures it can take to ensure that future administrations are not able to engage in these kinds of irresponsible corporate deals at the cost of San Diego taxpayers.



New Report Finds Verizon 5G UWB Network Limited and Unreliable, Difficult for Users to Access

EJL Wireless Research | December 2021

The independent study conducted by EJL Wireless Research across San Diego and Chula Vista, CA found the 5G Ultra Wideband network vulnerable to blind spots and obstructions, limiting ability to connect, stay connected to,  and reconnect to the network.

Verizon has permits for 769 mmWave small cells, a fraction of report’s recommended 10,000 needed to provide the city with reliable 5G UWB coverage, bringing into question the network’s financial viability



Webinar: 5G and the Digital Divide

CWA | September 17, 2020

A Deep Dive into 5G Technology, San Diego’s Backroom Deal with Verizon, and the Digital Divide in a Post COVID-19 World

This 1-hour webinar covers the following topics:

  1. A primer on 5G technology and the hype behind the 5G PR machine;
  2. An overview of  the City of San Diego’s backroom 5G deal with Verizon and how it threatens to increase the city’s digital divide;
  3. Recommendations for how the City of San Diego can take positive action to meet the community’s digital equity needs and protect worker safety. 

Featured Speakers:

  • Orlando Gonzalez, Secretary-Treasurer, CWA Local 9509
  • Richard Barrera, Vice President, San Diego Unified School Board
  • Antonio Martinez, Vice President, San Ysidro School Board
  • Earl Lum, Founder, EJL Wireless Research
  • Dr. Derrick Robinson, Senior Research and Policy Analyst, Center on Policy Initiatives
  • Sydney Householder, Strategic Research Associate, CWA 



Connectivity or Corporate giveaway? New Report Reveals the Shortcomings of San Diego's 5G Partnership with Verizon

CWA | June 25, 2020

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) released a report analyzing the public-private partnership between the City of San Diego and Verizon on Thursday, finding that the partnership was executed as a backroom deal that stands to benefit the company instead of centering the connectivity needs of all San Diegans. 

The report outlines three recommendations to help ensure San Diegans get a fair deal that benefits all residents: 

Assess costs and improve transparency -- The City of San Diego should assess the full budgetary impact of the Verizon deal, perform a cost study and hold a public hearing. The City should get a clear picture of the real cost to taxpayers - from staff time to lost fee revenue - and hold a public hearing to ensure that residents are fully informed and have the opportunity to weigh in. 

Consult with community stakeholders and create digital equity demands -- The City should work with community stakeholders to clarify digital equity needs. Verizon should be open to revising the deal and including needed community benefits that are commensurate with the financial benefit Verizon is receiving. 

Protect public and worker safety -- The City should change permitting procedures so residents know who is working in their streets and strengthen labor protections so that 5G network buildout doesn’t come at the expense of basic safety requirements. The City should modify its permitting procedure to require Verizon and all providers to state what entity will actually perform permitted work.



NYC Approves New Mobile Telecom Agreements, Enhancing Transparency Around Subcontractors

CWA | January 15, 2020

The Communications Workers of America worked with the NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications to develop a new set of transparency requirements for the franchise agreements.

Across the United States, cities and local governments have worked with providers on build-out of 5G networks and enhancement of 4G networks. This work includes digging under sidewalks and roads to lay fiber, which requires coordination with gas, water and other utilities.  Unfortunately, many providers build wireless networks using a web of out-of-state, subcontracted labor instead of locally-based direct employees, and often these subcontractors are non-union.

“For our city’s 5G rollout to succeed, we must be able to ensure accountability to protect New York’s residents, visitors, workers, and public infrastructure,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “I am glad that worker safety and subcontractor transparency language has been included in the City’s mobile telecom franchise agreement.”



CWA Releases New Recommendations for Small Cell Deployment at 2019 NATOA Conference

CWA | September 30, 2019

Carriers are making substantial demands of cities and localities in their rush to deploy wireless technology on public infrastructure. While cities certainly want robust access to next generation networks, officials must navigate multiple interests to ensure that deployment is done in a way that serves the public interest by improving digital equity, promoting good jobs, and protecting public assets.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) released recommendations for the deployment of small cell wireless infrastructure at the 2019 conference of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), the nation’s largest gathering of local government telecommunications professionals.



5G Promises Ring Hollow in Sacramento

CWA | June 24, 2019

A new report exposes the serious shortfalls in the public-private partnership between Verizon and the City of Sacramento. The agreement set the terms for the build-out of Verizon’s next generation 5G wireless network.


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News Feed

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NPR | 2/25/20

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5G’s rollout is confusing, uneven, and rife with problems
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Can 5G replace everybody’s home broadband?
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Verizon dodges 5G coverage question, stresses ‘5G Built Right’
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As 5G Rolls Out, Troubling New Security Flaws Emerge
Wired | 11/12/19

Verizon’s 5G network can’t cover an entire basketball arena, either
Ars Technica | 10/21/19

AT&T and other carriers want to hide detailed 5G maps from FCC and public
Ars Technica | 10/10/19

Verizon's 5G network isn't good enough to cover an entire NFL stadium
Ars Technica | 9/6/19

Digital Divide Policy Enters the National Conversation
Benton Foundation | 8/16/19

Florida Cities File Unconstitutional Challenge Over 5G Rules
Gov Tech | 8/14/19

Verizon skirts tough questions on near-term 5Gcoverage
Fierce Wireless | 8/1/19

Verizon wants you to pay $650 plus $85 per month for a 5G hotspot
Ars Technica7/19/19

City's 5G deal with Verizon delivers less than advertised, communications union says
Sacramento Business Journal 6/24/19

Slow Progress for Fast Speeds

Verizon got the better of Syracuse in 5G deal (Commentary) | 6/1/19

Mayor Faulconer & Verizon Announce Partnership to Bolster San Diego’s Smart City Status
San Diego Press Release | 4/8/19

Verizon begins deploying its 5G mobile network in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis
The Verge | 4/3/19

Contractor Tied to San Francisco Pipeline Explosion Didn’t Have a License
KQED | 2/15/19

Verizon’s stalled 5G rollout reportedly covers less than 10% of Sacramento
Venture Beat | 2/12/19

Did Verizon Jump the Gun on 5G in Sacramento?
CBS13 | 2/11/19

OSHA cites 2 contractors in Sun Prairie Explosion
WPR | 1/10/19

Sacramento’s 5G story dimmed by legal spat involving Verizon, XG
Fierce Wireless | 11/12/18