First responders in Mitchell County, North Carolina are getting a major boost in their wireless communications with the addition of a new, purpose-built FirstNet cell site and other network enhancements. This new infrastructure is a part of the FirstNet network expansion taking place across the state, bringing increased coverage, capacity and capabilities for public safety.
This new site will bring coverage to the mountainous area between Little Switzerland and Spruce Pine. Travelers along portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway and U.S. Highway 19E will experience improved coverage benefits.
“As first responders put their lives on the line in serving residents and folks from around the world who visit our beautiful mountains, they need access to the most advanced communications capabilities,” said state Sen. Ralph Hise, District 47. “I am excited about this new FirstNet site and how it will benefit our communities. It is good to see the work we do at the General Assembly encourage private investment in technology which pays dividends for all areas of the state.”
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’s 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’s 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. Plus, it’s giving first responders unthrottled access to the nation’s fastest overall network experience.1
Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in North Carolina, we’re 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 North Carolina first responders:
Purpose-built network enhancements – The Mitchell County site joins other new FirstNet cell sites launched this year in rural North Carolina counties including Alleghany, Ashe, Cleveland, Halifax, Northampton, Transylvania, and Warren. These sites were identified by state and public safety stakeholders as priority locations. With FirstNet, it’s about where first responders need connectivity. That’s 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 more than 400 towns across North Carolina as part of the initial FirstNet build 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 24/7 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 Group – led by a team 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’ve also 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.2 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. And with FirstNet, that’s exactly what they’re getting,” said Trey Rabon, president, AT&T North Carolina. “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’ve made FirstNet nimble, adaptable and ready to scale for even the most severe situations as we’re seeing currently with COVID-19.”
The COVID-19 health crisis illustrates precisely why public safety fought for the creation of FirstNet. Where public safety goes, we go. We’ve 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’s hitting the mark.
“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’s public safety community 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 Mitchell County’s first responders’ use of FirstNet to help them save lives and protect communities.”
In addition to further elevating public safety’s connected experience in support of their emergency response, this new infrastructure will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in the area. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when additional capacity is available.
For more about the value FirstNet is bringing to public safety, check out FirstNet.com.