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San Jose Installs Small Cells on 4,000 Light Poles & Enhances Broadband Network Accessibility

San Jose, CA, USA
The Atlas Community Team

Government Champion

Office of Civic Innovation


50 Thousand USD

Project Status

Operational since 2018

Challenges Addressed


Funding / Financing

Project Type

At a Glance

Income equality impacted broadband access in San Jose, leaving 95,000 residents without home internet access. With the aid of P3 partnerships in implementing a Small Cell Broadband Infrastructure project, the city reduced the digital divide by installing small cell antennas on 4,000 city-owned light poles.

Problem Addressed

As the largest city in Silicon Valley, San Jose is in close proximity to some of the world’s leading tech companies. Despite the advantages brought by its location, high levels of income disparity resulted in inconsistent broadband access and 95,000 residents without internet access in their homes. The city's broadband access inequity had to be addressed in order to set up all residents for success in this increasingly digitally-centered world.

San Jose used/is using public-private partnerships (P3s) to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

To galvanize solutions to address the digital divide, San Jose adopted a Broadband and Digital Inclusion Strategy to pave the way for greater broadband access among the community through public-private partnerships (P3s).

To institute the infrastructure needed to support the Broad and Digital Inclusion Strategy, the city signed agreements with a number of telecom companies, including Verizon and AT&T, to install small cell antennas that offer enhanced voice and data capacity citywide. The AT&T deployment installed 170 small cell devices on the city’s light poles. Small cell installations on ​​rooftops and traffic lights through a partnership with Mobilitie will provide better access to high-quality broadband in traditionally under-served areas.

Having various partners helping bridge the digital divide allows the city’s residents to get quicker access to an upgraded network, as well as stimulate competition between the partners that leads to greater overall innovation. In specifically addressing San Jose’s 95,000 residents without home broadband access, the city created a new Digital Inclusion Fund that was financed with $24 million from AT&T, Verizon, and Mobilitie. The funds are to be used in increasing access to broadband and education in the region.

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."

Small cell projects, like those in San Jose, are a stepping stone to implementing 5G broadband, however, the city is primarily focused on providing equitable, consistent broadband access before they move towards 5G technology.


  1. The city reduced the digital divide for residents by increasing access to quality broadband coverage generated by small cell installations.
  2. Creation of a $24 million Digital Inclusion Fund to address San Jose’s 95,000 residents who lack home broadband access.
  3. The project is the largest small cell-driven broadband infrastructure deployment among U.S. cities.
  4. Small cells were installed on 4,000 city-owned light poles
  5. The city received more than $500 million of private sector investment stemming from project partnerships

Who Should Consider?

Cities looking for innovative ways to decrease digital inequity and increase broadband access citywide.

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