First responders in North Carolina and New Jersey are receiving a boost in their wireless communications with the addition of purpose-built cell sites and other network enhancements statewide, according to information released by the First Responder Network (FirstNet) Authority, an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The FirstNet Authority (FA) said the new infrastructure also would improve connectivity for residents and visitors. An FA statement said the FirstNet public safety broadband wireless network supports public safety agencies’ COVID-19 disease pandemic emergency response.
“When an emergency happens and lives are on the line, reliable communications are essential,” said Sheriff John Ingram of Brunswick County, president of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association. “That’s true in rural areas and small towns, just as much as in major cities. Keeping first responders connected is what FirstNet and new cell sites like these are all about.”
FirstNet is the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built for America’s first responders and the extended public safety community. It is built with AT&T in a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), an independent agency within the federal government.
That is why AT&T has a responsibility unlike any other network provider and unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides real, dedicated mobile broadband when needed with always-on priority and preemption for first responders. This helps ensure North Carolina first responders connect to the critical information they need, every day and in every emergency. The network also is giving first responders unthrottled access to the nation’s fastest overall network experience.
Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in North Carolina, we are actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable, unthrottled connectivity and modern communications tools they need. Currently well ahead of schedule, the FirstNet build has already brought Alleghany County first responders:
Purpose-built network enhancements — three new FirstNet cell sites are located in Alleghany County; one in Beaufort County and one in Wilkes County. These sites are joining other new facilities in rural North Carolina counties including Ashe, Cleveland, Halifax, Northampton and Warren. These sites were identified by state and public safety stakeholders as priority locations. With FirstNet, it is about where first responders need connectivity. That is what is driving our FirstNet build. These sites were constructed using Band 14 spectrum, as well as AT&T commercial spectrum. Band 14 is nationwide, high-quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. AT&T also deployed Band 14 in about 400 towns across North Carolina, including Murphy, Weaverville, Lawndale, Red Springs, Hope Mills and Dunn.
Public safety-specific advanced capabilities — FirstNet is the only nationwide platform that gives first responders an entire communication ecosystem of unique benefits including mission-centric devices, certified applications and always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data. This is like giving public safety communications the “lights and sirens” treatment so that they stay connected, no matter the emergency.
Unparalleled emergency support — North Carolina agencies on FirstNet also have continuous access to a nationwide fleet of 76 land-based and airborne deployable network assets. These portable cell sites can either be deployed for planned events or in emergencies at no additional charge. FirstNet Response Operations — led by a group of former first responders — guides the deployment of the FirstNet deployable assets based on the needs of public safety.
Free smartphones for life for public safety agencies — We also have expanded the benefits of FirstNet for North Carolina agencies, spanning law enforcement, fire, EMS, healthcare, hospital emergency departments, emergency management and 9-1-1 operations. Now, they can stay up-to-date with free smartphones for life at no additional cost on their FirstNet Mobile Unlimited plans. This means first responders across agencies of all sizes will have affordable access to their network for decades to come.
“North Carolina’s first responders deserve reliable coverage across the state to help them effectively and efficiently address incidents,” said Trey Rabon, president, AT&T North Carolina. “And with FirstNet, that’s exactly what they’re getting.We couldn’t be more pleased to support the public safety mission and bring the state’s first responders and residents greater access to the connectivity they need. Working with public safety, we have made FirstNet reliable, adaptable and scalable during times of need.”
Six new FirstNet cell sites have launched in the following New Jersey communities:
- Bergen County: Two new sites were turned on, including one in Lyndhurst that improves coverage around Delafield Avenue, River Road, Route 7 and Valley Brook Avenue. A second site in Ramsey improves coverage around Erie Plaza.
- Gloucester County: A new site improves coverage around Delsea Drive and Route 55 in Franklinville.
- Monmouth County: This new site in Wall provides coverage around Campus Parkway and Highway 34.
- Passaic County: The new site in West Milford improves coverage around Burnt Meadow Road, Crescent Drive, Snake Den Road and surrounding areas.
- Sussex County: This new site in Sparta improves coverage around Newtown Sparta Road, Sparta Avenue, Andover Road and Sussex Mills Road.
“FirstNet is a dedicated broadband platform for public safety, by public safety,” said FirstNet Authority CEO Edward Parkinson. “We worked hand-in-hand with North Carolina and New Jersey’s public safety communities to understand their needs for the network. And these network enhancements are a prime example of how that input and feedback is becoming reality. We look forward to supporting the two states’ first responders’ use of FirstNet to help them save lives and protect communities.”
The COVID-19 health crisis illustrates precisely why public safety fought for the creation of FirstNet. Where public safety goes, we go. We have answered the call for tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other natural disasters. But with COVID-19, it is like experiencing a perpetual emergency in every community across the country. Public safety’s network is being tested in a completely new way, and it is hitting the mark.
Source: FirstNet Authority