Judge: Sacramento’s 5G public-private partnership with Verizon violates existing contract

The Sacramento City Council voted unanimously in favor of a public-private partnership with Verizon in 2017. The Council gave Verizon discounted access to city infrastructure to build a next-generation, 5G wireless network, including for the deployment of small cells. In exchange, Verizon offered small scale community benefits, such as free WiFi in select city parks and kiosks.

However, a California judge ruled that Sacramento violated its contract with XG Communities by signing the deal with Verizon. Sacramento already had an existing agreement with XG Communities’ predecessor, 5 Bars, to market and manage city assets for small cell deployment for a term of five years.

The Verizon deal is drawing public scrutiny over the city’s handling of its assets. Sacramento fast-tracked the deal without providing the usual 10-day public notice, thus blindsiding community stakeholders and competitors that may have offered better deals to the city, such as profit sharing. Verizon is also scaling back the community benefits it promised, with a recent announcement that WiFi kiosks will no longer be deployed, which were described as a “key deal point” under the agreement. 

Links:

Sacramento’s 5G story dimmed by legal spat involving Verizon, XG (FierceWireless, Nov. 12,
2018)

Editor’s Corner—How the city of Sacramento got to 5G, and what it means for the rest of the U.S. (Fierce Wireless, Apr. 2, 2018)

Free Wi-Fi planned in many Sacramento parks as City Council approves Verizon deal (The Sacramento Bee, Jun 7. 2017)

Sacramento scraps plan to install Verizon kiosks (Sacramento Business Journal, Nov. 12, 2018)