Fire truck and FirstNet Satellite Cell on Light Truck parked in front of a cell tower

New FirstNet Cell Site Turned on in Dorchester County to Support Public Safety

What's the news? Dorchester County's first responders are getting another major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet network expansion currently underway by AT&T.

We added a new, purpose-built cell site that boosts coverage around the Neck District Volunteer Fire Company in Cambridge. This new site is giving first responders on FirstNet - America's public safety network - access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

The new site was announced during a special event that featured national, state, and local officials, including representatives from the federal First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), local first responders, and officials from AT&T.

Maryland State Delegate Johnny Mautz kicked off the program, which also included Maryland State Senator Adelaide C. Eckardt, Maryland State Delegate Chris Adams, and Mike McKinley, Chief of the Neck District Volunteer Company.

This is the most recent purpose-built site AT&T turned on in Maryland. Last year, the company turned on another purpose-built site in Dorchester County near South Dorchester Elementary School in Church Creek. Learn more about the other sites visit maryland.att.com.

Plus, these sites aren't the only connectivity enhancements. Dorchester County's public safety community will benefit from by subscribing to FirstNet. A FirstNet Satellite Cell on Light Truck (SatCOLT) was also on display during the event.

This is a large, heavy-duty portable cell site that connects via satellite - not fiber. It's part of the nationwide fleet of 100+ dedicated deployable network assets available solely and exclusively to FirstNet subscribers at no additional charge. Public safety agencies on FirstNet can request the equipment for added support during planned events or emergencies. The deployable network assets provide first responders with similar capabilities and connectivity as a cell tower. That means public safety can stay connected to the information they need, no matter where their mission takes them - allowing first responders to make rescues, communicate and coordinate their emergency response, or aid in recovery, even in the most remote parts of the state.

In Maryland, portable cell sites were deployed in 2018 to support flooding emergencies in Ellicott City as well as in Washington County.

Why is this important? We consider FirstNet the most important wireless network in the country because it serves our first responders. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides dedicated mobile broadband with always-on priority and preemption for first responders. To ensure AT&T and the FirstNet Authorityare putting coverage and capacity where first responders need it most, the FirstNet build is guided by direct feedback from state and public safety officials. This helps ensure Maryland's first responders connect to the critical information they need - every day and in every emergency.

What are the benefits to first responders? Building upon AT&T's current and planned investments in Maryland we're actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable connectivity and modern communications tools they need. 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 just for FirstNet subscribers. That means only those on the FirstNet network will be able to access Band 14 spectrum, further elevating their connected experience and emergency response.

How does this help Dorchester County residents, businesses, and visitors? This new infrastructure will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in Dorchester County. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when capacity is available.

What is FirstNet? 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. Shaped by the vision of Congress and the first responder community following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, FirstNet stands above commercial offerings. It is built with AT&T in public-private partnership with the FirstNet Authority - an independent agency within the federal government. The FirstNet network provides the first responders with truly dedicated coverage and capacity when they need it, including unique benefits like always-on priority and preemption, and high-quality Band 14 spectrum. These advanced capabilities enable FirstNet to help fire, EMS, EMA, law enforcement, and 9-1-1 personnel save lives and protect their communities.

What people are saying:

Maryland State Senator Addie Eckardt, District 37
'This is an exciting opportunity for the Neck District Community! FirstNet will bring nationwide, high-quality access to internet services, not only for first responders and FirstNet subscribers, but also for AT&T customers who can enjoy Band 14's added coverage and capacity. I am so appreciative to FirstNet and AT&T and all the various partners who have made this tower and access possible. I look forward to continued buildout of broadband for all of our Eastern Shore communities.'

Maryland State Delegate Johnny Mautz, District 37B
'I'd like to thank AT&T for their diligence, careful consideration, and investment in the Eastern Shore. The location of this tower brings the widest benefit to the Neck District, as well as providing an essential resource to our first responders. It's really going to help with connection service in areas west of the fire house which extend outwards to Ragged Point. Along those lines, it's also important to recognize our local stakeholders because without their expertise, some of these areas may not have benefitted from our new tower. Technology infrastructure is a critical need for the Eastern Shore - especially for those with no service, and we are very supportive and grateful for this investment in our community. Thank you, AT&T!'

Maryland State Delegate Chris Adams, District 37B
'Bringing this high-speed broadband infrastructure to Cambridge, Dorchester County will expand the coverage needed to improve connectivity for our first responders, the community, and surrounding areas. This will also provide our residents and businesses the ability to experience better network connectivity. I am pleased to see this expansion of services in rural Maryland and throughout the Eastern Shore.'

Mike McKinley
President, Neck District Volunteer Fire Company
'This long-awaited cell site provides previously unavailable access to the 911 emergency system for the residents and boaters of the Neck District community. Now there is a much greater sense of security in times of an emergency. Hurricanes, flooding, suspicious activities, motor vehicle accidents are just a few instances where having reliable cell service is critical.'

Steve Webster
Chief, Neck District Volunteer Fire Company
'In times of declared emergencies or natural disaster, the FirstNet platform will now allow our first responders the communications capabilities that we previously lacked. This platform provides a superior level of communication that helps the responders of the Neck District Volunteer Fire Company serve our community when they need us most.'

Christopher Carroll
Regional Director, External Affairs, AT&T Maryland
'Maryland'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. We have a responsibility unlike any other network provider, and couldn't be more pleased to support the public safety mission by bringing the First State's first responders - and residents - greater access to the connectivity they need.'

Edward Parkinson
CEO, FirstNet Authority
'FirstNet is a dedicated broadband platform for public safety, by public safety. We worked hand-in-hand with the Maryland public safety community to understand their needs for the network. And this new site is a prime example of how that input and feedback is becoming reality. We look forward to supporting Maryland's first responders' use of FirstNet to help them save lives and protect our communities.'

Where can I find more information? Visit Maryland.att.com to learn more about how AT&T is supporting Maryland. For more about the value FirstNet is bringing to public safety, check out FirstNet.com. And go here for more FirstNet news.                

Learn more about how FirstNet is transforming public safety communications — contact your local FirstNet Authority Public Safety Advisor and sign up for our discipline newsletters. Follow us on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn for the latest FirstNet Authority updates.

For information on FirstNet products and services or to access your subscriber account, visit FirstNet.com.     

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