North Dakota’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications with the addition of new, purpose-built FirstNet cell sites in Forest River, Gladstone, and Sawyer, N.D. 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.
AT&T* has also launched additional cell sites in the following 6 communities: Epping, McGregor, Grenora, Williston, Harwood and Raleigh, N.D. These will enhance those communities’ 4G LTE coverage and help give residents and first responders faster, more reliable wireless service.
“The new FirstNet towers and network additions across North Dakota are critical updates to our state’s infrastructure for the benefit of both public safety and consumers,” said Duane Schell, North Dakota Chief Technology Officer. “We’re encouraged at the pace and projections for future towers in 2020.”
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 Dakota 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 Dakota, 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 Dakota first responders:
- Purpose-built network enhancements – New FirstNet cell sites – located in Forest River, Gladstone and Sawyer, N.D. – have launched. 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. We look at Band 14 as public safety’s VIP lane. In an emergency, this band – or lane – can be cleared and locked just for FirstNet subscribers. Band 14 has also been added on existing sites across North Dakota, including Fargo and Grand Forks markets.
- Reaching Rural North Dakota – FirstNet is built for all public safety. That means every first responder in the country – career or volunteer; federal, tribal, state or local; urban, suburban or rural. That’s why connecting remote parts of America is one of our top priorities. We’re collaborating with rural network providers to help build out additional LTE coverage and extend FirstNet’s reach in rural and tribal communities.
- Public safety-specific advanced capabilities – FirstNet is the only nationwide platform that gives first responders 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 Dakota 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 – 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’ve also expanded the benefits of FirstNet for North Dakota 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 Dakota’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 Cheryl Riley, president, AT&T Northern Plains. “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. At the beginning of the pandemic, AT&T and the AT&T Foundation were pleased to give over $47,000 across North Dakota for personal protective equipment, childcare services, and beds for community health care providers and first responders on the front lines of the pandemic, as well as replenishing food bank stocks in Fargo and Bismarck.
“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 Dakota’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 the state’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 through FirstNet, all new infrastructure will 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.