As San Diegans increasingly turn to technology to work, learn and access healthcare remotely, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer was joined on May 28 by Verizon and Rady Children’s Hospital to launch the citywide expansion of next-generation 5G wireless technology.
Developed thanks to breakthroughs made by San Diego’s own Qualcomm, the faster fifth-generation cellular network will support public safety, medical care, education, and commerce at a time when the demand for wireless service has never been higher. Some local hospitals have seen digital visits with patients increase more than 100-fold.
“The pandemic is transforming everything from healthcare to school to business, and San Diego is making sure we have the technology to transform along with it. At a time when San Diegans are relying on the internet to remotely work and learn and stay healthy, the City and Verizon’s partnership is accelerating the availability of fast 5G connections,” Faulconer said. “San Diegans should take pride in the fact that innovators like Qualcomm right here in San Diego led the development of this transformative technology, helping to support local jobs and economic growth.”
The 5G deployment is the result of an agreement between the City and Verizon to accelerate the distribution of this technology and enhance wireless services. The agreement called for the City to provide a streamlined permit process to Verizon in exchange for making the high-speed network available to communities faster and more efficiently. The technology can deliver download speeds up to 10 times faster than current mobile networks, with little transmission delay.
“Bringing Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network to San Diego will support the rapidly changing behavior of consumers, businesses and entire industries,” said Jonathan LeCompte, west area president for Verizon. “Through our public-private partnership, we’re building a digitally inclusive and connected city that will benefit San Diegans for decades to come.”
The deployment of 5G comes as the healthcare system has experienced a dramatic surge in telehealth requests as a result of COVID-19. Rady Children’s Hospital surged from 20 to 4,000 telehealth visits per week. Sharp Healthcare is conducting more than 2,400 digital consultations per day – an increase of nearly 4,000 percent when compared to pre-COVID-19 metrics. Kaiser Permanente has had a telehealth program in place for years, but under pandemic restrictions, about 80 percent of the system’s appointments nationally are for video or phone call.
“The need to provide essential medical care at this time of limited in-person visits resulted in a dramatic increase in telemedicine, or video visits, across Rady Children’s since March,” said Dr. Anthony Magit of Rady Children’s Hospital. “In order to meet the health care needs of San Diego’s children, we’ve seen more than a 100-fold increase in the number of video visits conducted weekly since February. Fast and reliable internet is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity to allow a greater level of service to children in our community.”
San Diego companies like Qualcomm have been working with wireless service providers on the development of 5G for more than a decade.
“Qualcomm is excited that 5G is coming to San Diego and we’re proud to have collaborated with Verizon in making 5G ‘mmWave’ networks and mobile devices a commercial reality,” said Durga Malladi, Qualcomm’s senior vice president and general manager for 4G/5G. “Both companies have worked closely together to help usher in the next generation of wireless innovation for customers to help meet the ever-increasing connectivity requirements for mobile experiences. For nearly a decade, Qualcomm, a global wireless leader, has been driving the development of this technology and inventing the foundational breakthroughs that make 5G possible. The criticality of connectivity is clear, and we are proud that San Diego will now be able to experience the next generation of wireless technology that will enable critical industries and initiatives in their digital transformation.”
The technology is welcomed by small and large businesses alike who rely on fast and reliable internet to get back on their feet following the Stay-at-Home order.
“As businesses continue to adapt to the ‘new normal,’ 5G technology will allow for all businesses to further innovate and for employees to work from home with the most enhanced connectivity,” said Jerry Sanders, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Businesses and consumers rely on wireless technology as a critical tool to increase efficiency, grow business networks, and simply communicate in our increasingly digital world.”
The 5G service launched will be initially available in Mission Valley near Westfield Mission Valley and SDCCU Stadium, Linda Vista along Linda Vista Road, Kensington near El Cajon Boulevard, and Bankers Hill on 1st Avenue.