The state of Virginia, with outlined county borders; a cell tower.

FirstNet: Mobile Broadband Network for First Responders in Carroll, Craig, Floyd, Franklin, Grayson and Washington Counties in Virginia Advances Public Safety Communications Capabilities

First responders in Carroll, Floyd, Craig, Grayson, Franklin and Washington Counties in Virginia are getting a major boost in their wireless communications with the addition of new, purpose-built FirstNet cell sites. This new infrastructure is a part of the FirstNet network expansion taking place across the Commonwealth, bringing increased coverage, capacity and capabilities for public safety. 

New FirstNet cell sites have launched in the following communities:

  • Carroll County: This new site in Dugspur will provide new coverage to Dugspur and surrounding areas and will complete the initiative that brings coverage to US 221 (Floyd Pike) between Hillsville and Copper Hill.
  • Craig County: A new site in New Castle brings new coverage to the town of New Castle and to the surrounding areas to include Routes 311, 42, 624, and 615.
  • Floyd County: This new site in Willis will bring coverage to the western portion of Willis and surrounding areas.
  • Franklin County: A new site in Ferrum provides coverage for Routes 864, 853, 607, 40, and surrounding areas, including Ferrum College.
  • Grayson County: A new site in Independence provides coverage around Independence, including the River North Correctional Center and along US 21 and US 221.
  • Washington County: A new site in Damascus provides coverage in town and around US 58, and state Routes 708 and 712.

In October 2020, AT&T announced new sites were turned on in Carroll, Fairfax, Floyd and Patrick Counties.  Other purpose-built sites in Fairfax County, Prince William County and Alleghany County were announced in 2019. 

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 Virginia’s 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.

“Virginia’s first responders deserve fast, reliable and dedicated coverage across the state to help them effectively and efficiently address incidents. And with FirstNet, that’s exactly what they’re getting,” said Vince Apruzzese, president, AT&T Virginia. “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.” 

Apruzzese added that Virginia was the first state in the country to opt in to FirstNet in July 2017. 

Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in Virginia, we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable, unthrottled connectivity and modern communications tools they need. The build out of the FirstNet platform is currently well ahead of schedule and, in addition to the purpose-built sites, already offers subscribers in Virginia these benefits and more: 

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. 

Unparalleled emergency support – State and local agencies in Virginia 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 – AT&T also has expanded the benefits of FirstNet for state and local agencies across Virginia – 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.

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 Virginia’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 Virginia’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. 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. Residents, visitors and businesses in the area of these new sites 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.

Share this post