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Firefighter using smart device in front of FirstNet deployable tower

New FirstNet infrastructure expands critical connectivity for responders in rural Wayne County, N.C.

January 13, 2022

The residents of Wayne County, North Carolina (NC) depend on an economy based on a mix of local industries ranging from assembly production, manufacturing, and agriculture. Combined with being home to the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the Wayne - University of North Carolina Health Care medical facility, recent modernization investments have enhanced economic opportunities throughout the region.

Yet despite sitting right outside the technological hotbed of Raleigh-Durham’s research triangle, Wayne County has historically lacked access to critical communications infrastructure.

When emergencies happen or natural disasters strike, inadequate emergency communication can dramatically impair the ability of first responders to respond quickly and efficiently to keep communities safe and protect property from harm.

The FirstNet Authority is committed to connecting rural America

Reaching rural America has always been a top priority for the FirstNet network. FirstNet was built to provide additional coverage and capacity where public safety needs it most – especially in rural and remote areas without reliable emergency communication service. 

“There are communication deserts all through rural North Carolina, and Wayne County is no exception,” said N.C. State Representative Raymond Smith, who represents Wayne County. “We have parts of our county that absolutely have abhorrent communication. We have individuals who have problems with 9-1-1 access.”

With mobile technology playing a bigger role in preparation and response efforts, now more than ever, rural first responders require strong and reliable broadband to stay connected through network congestion and system outages.

New FirstNet infrastructure extends connectivity to emergency responders

Recently, FirstNet expanded its Band 14 prioritized and preemption service to first responders in Wayne County with a new purpose-built cell site tower. This new infrastructure is bringing fast, reliable broadband service so local first responders can access the best tools and capabilities to respond anywhere and anytime. 

The FirstNet Authority joined government officials, community leaders, and public safety agencies to announce the launch of FirstNet’s new tower in the La Grange area.

“We created the FirstNet program to empower the creation and development of [a] network to aid our first responders – FirstNet has been forward thinking and innovative.” remarked U.S. Representative G. K. Butterfield. “What we dedicated today is a network to benefit the rural community of Wayne County and surrounding areas.”

Rural areas sometimes require coverage to be addressed in multiple ways – including to extend FirstNet’s signal into areas that are difficult to reach.  As a FirstNet subscriber, Wayne County will also gain access to 100+ FirstNet mobile assets that can be sent to emergencies at no extra cost.

AT&T, built with FirstNet, the cellular carrier building the network, brought a FirstNet Satellite Cell Truck to the new cell site event. FirstNet deployable assets can be used as a temporary replacement or to augment coverage and capacity for towers after natural disasters, large planned events or incidents, and to remote areas in a matter of hours.

FirstNet readies local firefighters for mission-critical response

Thanks to FirstNet, local first responders can have access to modern communications devices, apps, tools, and other resources that will strengthen emergency response. Subscriber Chief Al Laws of the New Hope Volunteer Fire and Rescue values the network’s priority and preemption service which gives teams a fast and reliable connection when the need it most – whether responding to medical emergencies, search and rescue calls, traffic accidents, or everyday incidents.

“FirstNet is important because it is a dedicated band strictly for the use of first responders, especially in the times of disasters where we have to have the ability to communicate,” said Chief Laws.  “It's dependable and the coverage is wonderful. especially now, and you can't beat the price as far as what you get with your equipment.”

Currently, FirstNet already covers more than 99% of the U.S. population with more than 18,500 public safety agencies and other support organizations signed on to the network. With over 2.8 million connections, FirstNet will continue to grow to give responders in rural areas critical voice and data communications to protect their communities.


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.

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