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FirstNet expands responder communications in Sawyer area

SAWYER – First responders in Sawyer are getting a major boost in their wireless communications with the addition of a new FirstNet cell site, according to AT&T.

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 also added FirstNet cell sites in Forest River and Gladstone and has launched additional cell sites in Epping, McGregor, Grenora, Williston, Harwood and Raleigh. 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’s chief technology officer, in a news release. “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 first responders, built in a public-private partnership between AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), an independent agency within the federal government.

Unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides real, dedicated mobile broadband when needed with always-on priority and preemption for first responders. The site at Sawyer was identified by state and public safety stakeholders as a priority location. The site was 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.

Residents, visitors and businesses also can take advantage of the improved AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when additional capacity is available.

“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.”

AT&T is offering free smartphones on its FirstNet Mobile Unlimited plan to North Dakota agencies that include law enforcement, fire, emergency medical systems, healthcare, hospital emergency departments, emergency management and 9-1-1 operations.

AT&T and the AT&T Foundation gave 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.

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