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New cell sites launch in Cook County to support First Responders

Nov 17, 2021 11:15AM ● By Editor

Photo: AT&T

From FirstNet - November 17, 2021

First responders in northern Minnesota are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T*. Two new, purpose-built cell sites have been added in the area - one located along the Gunflint Trail near Gunflint Lake and Magnetic Lake and another located near Lichen Lake in the Superior National Forest.

These FirstNet sites will serve those traveling in the remote wilderness of northern Minnesota. One site will provide coverage when traveling along the Gunflint Trail north of Grand Marais. The second will provide coverage when traveling along State Highway 165 near Lichen Lake north of Tofte. The sites will also give first responders on FirstNet - America's public safety network - access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

Mike Keyport, Cook County Director of Emergency Management, said "FirstNet and AT&T have truly stepped up in providing better and more wireless coverage in rural areas in Minnesota.  I am pleased to have more tools in the toolbox for our Cook County First Responders."

To ensure AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) are putting coverage and capacity where first responders need it most, the FirstNet build is being done with direct feedback from state and local public safety officials. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need - every day and in every emergency. FirstNet sites already launched in communities across Minnesota include Bagley, Baudette, Blackduck, Cloquet, Echo Trail (northwest of Ely), Faribault, Fillmore County, Finlayson, Graceville, Grygla, Gunflint Trail, Hovland, Isabella, Kellogg (Hwy 42), Kjostad Lake, Lewiston, Tofte, Togo and Williams. 

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. Band 14 has been added on more than 700 existing sites across Minnesota, including markets such as the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester, Mankato, the Iron Range, St. Cloud and the Brainerd/Baxter area.

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 is built with AT&T in public-private partnership with the FirstNet Authority - an independent agency within the federal government. The FirstNet network provides public safety 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.

"Minnesota'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 Paul Weirtz, President of AT&T Minnesota,"We're pleased these new sites will provide critical wireless coverage in some of Minnesota's most remote wilderness areas. We have a responsibility unlike any other network provider, and we couldn't be more pleased to support the public safety mission by bringing northern Minnesota's first responders."

"We worked hand-in-hand with the Minnesota public safety community to understand their needs for the network. And these new sites are a prime example of how that input and feedback is becoming reality," said Edward Parkinson, CEO of FirstNet Authority, "We look forward to supporting Minnesota's first responders' use of FirstNet to help them protect our communities when moments matter most."
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