police on mobile phone

FirstNet added almost 100,000 square miles to its coverage area footprint during 2020, the organization reported in an update.

The public/private safety network operates on AT&T infrastructure. It now covers more than 2.71 million square miles, has more than 2 million connections and more than 15,000 subscribing agencies and organizations. The FirstNet footprint covers 99% of the United States population, FirstNet said.

Among the highlights from 2020:

  • FirstNet surpassed 90% of its Band 14 coverage target and claims to be “well ahead” of schedule. It has gone beyond its core commitment to install Band 14 on new and existing AT&T cell sites, enabling coverage to several hundred thousand additional square miles of territory. The expansion on Band 14 enabled additional deployments of FirstNet MegaRange high power user equipment (HPUE), which is exclusive to the band.
  • More than half of the 1,000 cell sites planned in the initial expansion have launched, with some connectivity in every state.
  • There were more than 750 requests for use of the FirstNet fleet of 80 portable network assets. First responders in Puerto Rico were provided with dedicated on-island portable cell sites. All 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia were given access.

“These are major milestones in the growth, adoption and deployment of public safety’s network,” FirstNet Authority CEO Edward Parkinson said in a press release about the FirstNet footprint. “The FirstNet Authority is pleased that buildout continues to be ahead of schedule and that we are moving closer to fully realizing the vision of a nationwide network that serves all of public safety. This progress shows the strength of our partnership with public safety and how their involvement is critical to the success of the network.”

In July, FirstNet said it had deployed new cell sites in Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

An example of FirstNet’s rural growth last year is the deployment of purpose-built FirstNet cell sites in Forest River, Gladstone and Sawyer, N.D. That was part of a bigger push across the state.

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