Tech town San Jose is set to become a 5G battleground, as operators AT&T and Verizon separately announced infrastructure upgrade plans which will pave the way for full blown launches of the next generation technology.

The moves are significant because San Jose is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, home to tech giants including Google, Apple and Facebook among others.

AT&T plans to launch mobile 5G service in the city in the first half of 2019, as part of a public-private partnership (PPP). The agreement will see the operator densify its network by deploying nearly 200 additional small cells and conduct a series of IoT trials covering smart lighting, public Wi-Fi and infrastructure monitoring.

While the operator did not reveal how many small cells it currently operates in San Jose, it noted the latest move will also deliver a capacity boost for its FirstNet emergency responder network in the area. AT&T aims to strike comparable deals with other cities.

Smart city
Verizon detailed a similar agreement which will see it upgrade broadband infrastructure in San Jose with new fibre and small cells, and provide smart city solutions focused on safety at road intersections, traffic data and parking management.

The deal, which was agreed upon by the mayor, still needs to be approved by the city council. But Verizon said the proposed investments will “lay the groundwork for the eventual introduction of 5G services”.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo pitched the partnerships as wins for city residents, calling the upgrades “key to building a smarter city, advancing our long term economic competitiveness, and connecting residents who lack access to affordable, high-quality internet service”.

AT&T previously announced plans to launch mobile 5G in a dozen US cities by the end of this year, including Atlanta, Georgia; and Dallas and Waco, Texas.

Verizon is similarly speeding toward fixed wireless access 5G launches in three to five markets by the close of 2018, starting in Los Angeles and Sacramento, California.