A Navajo Nation EMS ambulance parked on a street near an open field in New Mexico

FirstNet, America’s Public Safety Network, Improves Connectivity for Navajo Nation First Responders

Collaboration with Commnet Broadband Helps Advance Public Safety, Improve Connectivity for Tribal Community

What’s the news? Navajo Nation first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T. In addition to constructing new, purpose-built FirstNet sites where first responders said they needed improved coverage, we’re collaborating with Commnet Broadband, NTUA, NTUA Wireless, the Navajo Nation Telecommunications Regulatory Commission to help build out additional Band 14 spectrum and AT&T commercial LTE spectrum bands across more than 100 sites.

These sites, installed across Navajo Nation’s 27,000 square miles, will help extend FirstNet’s reach in the community, as well as improve the LTE broadband signal for residents. Chapter Houses, schools, medical centers, businesses and housing complexes will benefit from the new sites. Most towers are operational now with the final two expected to be operational by December 2022.

What is FirstNet? FirstNet, Built with AT&T 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 First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) – an independent agency within the federal government. With more than 20,500 agencies and organizations, accounting for 3.3 million connections nationwide1, the FirstNet network is providing public safety with truly dedicated coverage and capacity when they need it, unique benefits like always-on priority and preemption, and high-quality Band 14 spectrum. These advanced capabilities help fire, EMS, law enforcement save lives and protect their communities.

Why is this important? FirstNet is built for all public safety. That means every first responder in the country – career or volunteer; federal, tribal, state or local; urban, suburban or rural. By collaborating with local providers, we’re able to use existing infrastructure and benefit from the provider’s local, on-the-ground expertise and experience. The collaboration with local providers is part of our FirstNet buildout strategy to quickly address rural coverage needs and extend the network’s reach, giving more of the public safety community access to their network. After all, emergencies don’t know zip codes.

What are the benefits to first responders? Band 14 is nationwide, high quality spectrum set aside by the federal 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 and locked 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. And thanks to the unique qualities of Band 14, FirstNet is the only network where public safety can take advantage of the highest power class signaling available in the U.S. – FirstNet MegaRange. It provides the greatest benefit in areas where data connectivity is traditionally unreliable, such as remote regions, rural areas and maritime environments. This means first responders can install specially designed FirstNet Ready® HPUE devices in their ambulances, squad cars, fire trucks and other vehicles and buildings to significantly increase their coverage area in remote locations.

How does this help Navajo Nation residents? These network enhancements will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in Navajo Nation. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when additional capacity is available.

Why are Commnet, NTUA, NTUA Wireless and AT&T collaborating to expand FirstNet coverage? When Congress passed bipartisan legislation to create FirstNet, they recognized the critical importance of coverage in tribal, rural, and remote communities. In addition to building new, purpose-built FirstNet cell sites and deploying Band 14 spectrum on new and existing AT&T cell sites, the law directed the FirstNet network expansion to include collaboration with local service providers and “utilize cost-effective opportunities to speed deployment.” This collaboration is helping to more quickly address rural coverage needs and expand the reach of FirstNet for the public safety community.

Where can I find more information? For more information about Commnet’s, NTUA’s, and NTUA’s Wireless’ efforts to expand broadband services in rural America, visit www.CommnetBroadband.com. For more about the value FirstNet is bringing to public safety, check out FirstNet.com. And go here for more FirstNet news. 

What people are saying:

Jonathan Nez
Navajo Nation President
“This is a great collaboration that is increasing the telecommunications capabilities that our frontline warriors need to help respond to emergency situations on the Navajo Nation. The behind the scenes work and coordination has been tremendous and now we are seeing the real change that our communities will benefit from in terms of greater resources for first responders. This is Nation building and we look forward to constructing more infrastructure to improve the quality of life for our Navajo people. We welcome FirstNet to the great Navajo Nation.”

Tom Guthrie
Commnet Broadband CEO
“We are excited to work with AT&T to bring FirstNet coverage to the public safety officials of the Navajo Nation. In addition to expanding coverage in rural America for first responders with FirstNet, this initiative will allow AT&T to deliver quality mobile services to the Navajo people.”

Jeremy Zollo
Chief Market Engagement Officer, FirstNet Authority
“FirstNet is a dedicated broadband platform for public safety, by public safety. We worked hand-in-hand with the Tribal 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 Navajo Nation first responders’ use of FirstNet to help them save lives and protect communities.”

Angel Benally
Tribal Affairs Specialist, FirstNet Program at AT&T
“The expansion of FirstNet coverage equips Tribal first responders serving the Navajo Nation with secure and dedicated connectivity when they need it – both in their daily operations and when emergencies arise. Navajo Nation emergency personnel have harnessed FirstNet during their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as supporting their communication during planned events ranging from the Navajo Nation Fair to First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s visit last spring. The collaboration with small and rural telecom providers, including Commnet Wireless, has helped us further extend the reach of FirstNet in rural and tribal communities. As a result of this effective collaboration, we’re excited about the progress that’s occurred to build out FirstNet Band 14 and additional LTE spectrum to support first responders and the broader community on Navajo Nation. 

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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