San Diego Internet Access Facts & Statistics

San Diego has strong fiber coverage, but a strong digital divide due to concentration by carriers on high-income households. AT&T, Cox, and Spectrum are the primary local internet service providers.

Provider Network Primary network coverage Down Up
AT&T CaliforniaDSL, Fiber97%100 Mbps20 Mbps
Cox CommunicationsCable52%1000 Mbps35 Mbps
Charter Communications IncCable47%940 Mbps35 Mbps

Digital Divide Summary Infrastructure All providers

San Diego Digital Divide

San Diego has a high digital divide compared to other major metros in California, thanks to low overall competition between providers and low broadband penetration in low-income communities. Census data shows that neighborhoods with higher median incomes are first to receive expansion programs like AT&T Fiber or Verizon 5G home internet (currently being built for 2021). 1

Meanwhile, minority households identified as African-American or Latinx commonly report lower rates of broadband subscription, at about half the rate of White-identified households.

Local government and community organizations have explored public-private partnerships and municipal broadband as an option for low-served areas in and around San Diego in the past. As of 2020, the only deal to go through is the city’s exclusive partnership with Verizon, which permits the carrier to access public right-of-way such as streetpoles in order to install the neccessary “small cell” towers to supply fixed and obile 5G service locally starting in 2021. 2

Summary of internet access in San Diego

14
residential internet providers in San Diego.
16
business-focused internet providers in San Diego.
2–3
internet options for most homes in San Diego.

We’ve found a total of 30 internet providers in San Diego: 14 residential providers and 16 business-only providers.

However, only 8 of those companies offer service to more than 1% of the San Diego population. 22 local companies offer niche business service to small coverage areas, mostly enterprise services in business districts.

Small business internet is commonly available from the same companies offering residential internet in San Diego. 11 of the residential providers locally offer SMB (Small-Medium Business) services at this time.

Wired internet network coverage in San Diego

Coverage by network type in San Diego is as follows:

98.59%
Cable coverage in San Diego.
97.04%
DSL coverage in San Diego.
62.86%
Fiber coverage in San Diego.

San Diego has strong fiber internet coverage from AT&T and Cox, and close to total cable internet coverage from Cox and Spectrum.

While speeds above 200 Mbps are available to almost all residences within city limits, about 40% of the area only has one wired option above 100 Mbps. The most common wiring scenario in San Diego is two wires entering the residence: cable from Cox Communications and DSL internet from AT&T.

Local internet service options in San Diego

The only internet alternatives in San Diego come from fixed wireless providers like WebPass. However, these are uncommon outside of larger apartment buildings.

Fixed wireless internet options in San Diego:

Provider brand nameNetworkFW coverageMaximum downloadMaximum upload
San Diego BroadbandFixed Wireless7%100 Mbps30 Mbps
Webpass, Inc.Fixed Wireless3%1000 Mbps1000 Mbps

2 Fixed Wireless Residential internet providers in San Diego with at least 1% local coverage with their fixed wireless network. These providers may have other network types.

Fixed 5G internet service in San Diego

Verizon has been building small cell towers around San Diego since 2019, and is poised to launch a “fixed 5G home internet service” in the area, similar to the program currently being piloted nearby in Los Angeles. This service would, in theory, provide a third internet option for large parts of the urban center with download and upload speeds from 200–400 Mbps or more.

Utility poles in San Diego.
Access to utility poles, street poles, and public right-of-way has become a hot-button issue between broadband access advocates and the private wireless market in San Diego.

However, local critics say 5G won’t help in San Diego, due to a poorly-structured exclusive deal between Verizon and the city that lets the company use city infrastructure for little or no cost, without any requirement that low-income areas be served or that funds be contributed for public services.

The deal (with Mayor Kevin Faulconer) requires Verizon to install 1,500 small cells around San Diego by the end of 2021. It’s expected that this deadline will likely not be reached due to the impact of Covid-19, and since the deal permits 4G small cells as well as 5G, there is no guarantee that 5G will reach full penetration outside profitable neighborhoods. 3

Fiber internet options in San Diego

Provider brand nameNetworkFiber coverageMaximum downloadMaximum upload
AT&T CaliforniaFiber29%1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
Cox CommunicationsFiber2%1000 Mbps1000 Mbps

2 Fiber internet providers in San Diego with at least 1% local coverage with their fiber network area. These providers may have other network types.

Infrastructure challenges to broadband internet access in San Diego

The infrastructure issues for broadband in San Diego have regained public attention thanks to the focus on digital education and working from home (telecommuting) during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. Local nonprofits and government have launched a number of programs aimed at expediting solutions to the issues in coming years.

In terms of low-income coverage, Access from AT&T and Connect2Compete from Cox both provide internet service for very low cost (around $10/month) to qualifying low-income households throughout San Diego. While the speeds and data caps of these plans are often quite limiting, they are a welcome lifeline when the alternative is using mobile devices only.

AT&T’s subsidized internet service, for example, comes with a $10 monthly price.

Plan NameSpeed Down/UpMonthly PriceWiFi Fee
AT&T Access 1010/Variable Mbps$10/mo $0/mo

Also starting in 2020, the San Diego local government is working to provide low-cost and free computer access to low-income residents by repurposing “end of life” devices and donations. 4 If approved, this program is expected to produce 800+ computers used by municipal offices that otherwise would be sent to the landfill.

All providers in San Diego

Provider brand namePrimary networkPrimary network coverageMaximum downloadMaximum upload
AT&T CaliforniaDSL97%100 Mbps20 Mbps
Cox CommunicationsCable52%1000 Mbps35 Mbps
Charter Communications IncCable47%940 Mbps35 Mbps
Crown Castle FiberFiber46%0 Mbps0 Mbps
San Diego BroadbandFixed Wireless7%100 Mbps30 Mbps
Webpass, Inc.Fixed Wireless3%1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
PAETEC Communications, Inc.DSL2%0 Mbps0 Mbps
TPx CommunicationsFiber2%0 Mbps0 Mbps

8 residential and business internet providers in San Diego with at least 1% local coverage with their primary network type.

Low-coverage providers in San Diego

Provider brand namePrimary networkPrimary network coverageMaximum downloadMaximum upload
One Ring NetworksFixed Wireless0.7821%150 Mbps150 Mbps
ComcastCable0.2992%987 Mbps35 Mbps
GeoLinksFixed Wireless0.1849%1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
Google Fiber California, LLCFiber0.0157%1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
SDWISPFixed Wireless0.0020%20 Mbps4 Mbps
Consolidated CommunicationsFiber0%0 Mbps0 Mbps
Mediacom California LLCCable0%100 Mbps10 Mbps
Valley Center WirelessFixed Wireless0%50 Mbps50 Mbps
SkyValleyNetworkFixed Wireless0%5 Mbps5 Mbps

9 residential internet providers in San Diego with less than 1% local coverage. These are unlikely to be serviceable.

Page Summary
  • 77,000 households in San Diego do not have broadband service at home due to a combination of low availability and high costs, per city polling in 2018.
  • 12,000 households with school-aged children in San Diego lack internet access or mobile devices capable of high-speed connection for education purposes.
  • Verizon 5G has a public-private partnership with the city of San Diego that critics hold as anti-competative due to lack of requirement to serve low-income communities in exchange for public right-of-way rights.

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Last Update: September 17, 2020
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