The State of Alabama, with outlined county boarders; a cell tower.

The FirstNet Network Expands Across Alabama to Advance Public Safety Communications Capabilities

Alabama’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications with the addition of new, purpose-built FirstNet cell sites supporting 8 communities: Anniston, Banks, Berry, Clio, Orrville, Ranburne, Union Springs and Woodland. Plus, Band 14 spectrum has been added to nearly 1,000 existing cell sites across the state. Band 14 is nationwide, high quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. This new infrastructure is a part of the FirstNet network expansion taking place across the state, bringing increased coverage, capacity and capabilities for public safety.

On top of the purpose-built FirstNet sites, AT&T has also recently launched additional new cell sites to support dozens of communities across Alabama. All newly built sites will help improve the overall coverage experience for first responders, residents, visitors and businesses in the area.

“FirstNet gives our responder teams the ability to deploy and coordinate responses immediately. When minutes count, instant high-speed communication can help those who save lives,” said Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. “Since I made the decision in 2017 to opt-in to FirstNet, Alabama’s FirstNet Team has gone above and beyond to ensure our first responders have increased capabilities to communicate as effectively and efficiently as possible, while also ensuring that our residents and businesses have the best possible services provided.”

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’s built with AT&T in a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) – an independent agency within the federal government.

That’s why AT&T has a responsibility unlike any other network provider. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides real, dedicated mobile broadband when needed with always-on priority and preemption for first responders. This helps ensure Alabama first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. Plus, it’s giving first responders unthrottled access to the nation’s fastest overall network experience.

Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in Alabama, we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable, unthrottled connectivity and modern communications tools they need. Currently well ahead of schedule, the FirstNet build has already brought Alabama first responders:

  • Purpose-built network enhancements – New FirstNet cell sites – located in Anniston, Banks, Berry, Clio, Orrville, Ranburne, Union Springs and Woodland – have launched. These sites were identified by state and public safety stakeholders as priority locations. With FirstNet, it’s about where first responders need connectivity. That’s what is driving our FirstNet build. These sites were constructed using Band 14 spectrum, as well as AT&T commercial spectrum. AT&T also deployed Band 14 across nearly 1,000 sites across Alabama, supporting markets such as Birmingham, Mobile, Franklin, Tuscaloosa, Cleburne, Lamar, Butler and more.
  • Public safety-specific advanced capabilities – FirstNet is the only nationwide platform that gives first responders an entire communication ecosystem of unique benefits including mission-centric devices, certified applications and always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data. This is like giving public safety communications the “lights and sirens” treatment so that they stay connected, no matter the emergency.
  • Unparalleled emergency support – Alabama agencies on FirstNet also have 24/7 access to a nationwide fleet of 76 land-based and airborne deployable network assets. These portable cell sites can either be deployed for planned events or in emergencies at no additional charge. FirstNet Response Operations – led by a group of former first responders – guides the deployment of the FirstNet deployable assets based on the needs of public safety.
  • Free smartphones for life for public safety agencies – We’ve also expanded the benefits of FirstNet for Alabama agencies – spanning law enforcement, fire, EMS, healthcare, hospital emergency departments, emergency management and 9-1-1 operations. Now, they can stay up-to-date with free smartphones for life at no additional cost on their FirstNet Mobile—Unlimited plans.2 This means first responders across agencies of all sizes will have affordable access to their network for decades to come.

“Alabama’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 Wayne Hutchens, President of AT&T Alabama. “We couldn’t be more pleased to 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.”

The COVID-19 health crisis illustrates precisely why public safety fought for the creation of FirstNet. Where public safety goes, we go. We’ve answered the call for tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other natural disasters. But with COVID-19, it is like experiencing a perpetual emergency in every community across the country. Public safety’s network is being tested in a completely new way, and it’s hitting the mark.

This is true across our nation and here, locally in Alabama. In March, we provided support to the more than 500 public safety officials and volunteers in the search and rescue of a 4-year-old girl in a small community outside of Auburn. And, last year, we announced the addition of FirstNet One – a 55-foot aerostat – to the FirstNet disaster response arsenal. FirstNet One, which was tested at historic Sharpe Field in Tuskegee, brings a first-of-its-kind public safety communications solution for first responders.

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

In addition to further elevating public safety’s connected experience in support of their emergency response, this new infrastructure will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in the area. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when additional capacity is available.

For more about the value FirstNet is bringing to public safety, check out FirstNet.com.

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Candice Appiakorang