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In addition to dedicated cell infrastructure, FirstNet also provides trucks and drones that can serve as portable cell sites.

Harrisburg -- FirstNet, a nationwide high-speed broadband communications platform specifically developed for first responders and other public safety officials, is receiving dedicated infrastructure improvements throughout Pennsylvania that will increase coverage and capacity. The platform was created through a public-private partnership with AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority, an independent agency within the federal government.

New FirstNet cell sites have launched in these areas so far:

Lycoming County

A new site offers new coverage in Barbours, as well as Route 87 throughout the area. 

“FirstNet has opened up a new level of data transmission service for the public safety world. Loyalsock Volunteer Fire Company No.1 enjoys the data speeds and call preemption service in the regions command unit as well as our tablet used in our EMS and Fire units,” said Rich Caschera, North Central Regional Task Force. “We enjoy a great working relationship with the FirstNet Pennsylvania State Interop Team and the FirstNet support team at AT&T. We saved on costs and gained service – a WIN!”

Sullivan County

A new site in Forksville enhances coverage along East Bear Mountain Road and Route 154 as well as surrounding areas.

Huntingdon County

This new site provides coverage around Broad Top City and along SR-913 and Broad St.

Pennsylvania first opted into FirstNet in November of 2017, and the first dedicated FirstNet cell site was activated in Clinton County in December, 2019. The sites for dedicated cell sites were identified by state and public safety stakeholders as priority locations. The sites were built using Band 14 spectrum, a wireless frequency set aside specifically for FirstNet, and the AT&T commercial frequency spectrum.

“My team worked to help identify the areas of Pennsylvania where we needed more mobile broadband coverage for our first responders. These new sites are good news for public safety in Pennsylvania. I look forward to continued collaboration with the FirstNet Authority and AT&T as the buildout continues,” said Pennsylvania State Police Major Diane M. Stackhouse, Governor Wolf’s appointed FirstNet Single Point of Contact for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network.

“Pennsylvania’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 David Kerr, president, AT&T Pennsylvania. “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.”

State and local agencies have 24/7 access to FirstNet with unlimited data, no service throttling, and unlimited smartphone service. Agencies also have access to portable network assets - specialized trucks or drones may be set up to create a portable cell site. 

“FirstNet is a dedicated broadband platform for public safety, by public safety,” said FirstNet Authority CEO Edward Parkinson. “We worked hand-in-hand with Pennsylvania’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 the Commonwealth’s first responders’ use of FirstNet to help them save lives and protect communities.”

The new FirstNet infrastructure will also improve coverage for regular AT&T wireless customers, since commercial AT&T frequencies are supported by the FirstNet structures. Band 14 is also available when it is not being used to full capacity.

This story was compiled by an NCPA staff reporter from submitted news. To see a list of our editorial staff please visit our staff directory.