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

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

Maine’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications with the addition of new, purpose-built FirstNet cell sites – located in Aroostook, Penobscot, Oxford, Somerset, Hancock, Kennebec and Knox counties. 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 in the following towns: Biddeford, Springvale, Buxton, Hartland, Easton, Dayton, and Rockwood. AT&T also recently completed updates to over 150 recently acquired, existing cell sites across central and northern Maine, which will significantly expand coverage to many areas of the state. These sites have been upgraded with AT&T LTE spectrum and Band 14 spectrum. Band 14 is nationwide, high quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet.

“I welcome FirstNet’s commitment to enhance wireless coverage across Maine,” said Governor Janet Mills. “This announcement is an important step forward in supporting emergency first responders as they conduct their critical work, in supporting the health and safety of Maine people, and in connecting more Maine people to our global network. We are grateful for our partnership with AT&T and look forward to our continued work to bolster coverage and strengthen our economy.”

 “AT&T is committed to reinforcing and enhancing our Maine network,” said Owen Smith, President, AT&T Maine. “These uncertain times have highlighted just how important fast, reliable communication tools are to all of us, from students and teachers to doctors and nurses to families and businesses. Through strong partnerships and by utilizing an array of innovative resources, AT&T is working to ensure Maine’s first responders and residents have the best possible coverage now and in the future. We are grateful to Governor Mills, the State of Maine and all those involved in helping bring about these important enhancements and those still to come.” 

Prioritizing Public Safety Communications

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 Maine 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.

FirstNet is the only nationwide platform that gives first responders 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.

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

The new FirstNet sites were identified by state and public safety stakeholders as priority locations. With FirstNet, it’s about where first responders need connectivity. Every day. And in every emergency. 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 has also deployed Band 14 on sites across Maine.

One of the first sites to be completed in this phase of Maine’s FirstNet project is located in Van Buren, Maine. Van Buren was the site of a tragic accident that claimed the life of Arthur Brissette in January 2017 and brought to light the critical need for reliable communications in this area of the state. While Arthur Brissette was not an AT&T customer at the time of his death, we worked closely with several state agencies after the accident to prioritize the area and bring improved communications to Maine’s rural areas.

“In memory of my husband Arthur, this is heartwarming for myself, my daughter and our family,” said Lisa Brissette, wife of Arthur Brissette. “I take some comfort in knowing the fate he suffered that day has not gone unnoticed and he would be proud to know what has been done to save people in need of help in the future.”

FirstNet is built for all public safety. That means every first responder in Maine – career or volunteer; federal, tribal, state or local; urban, suburban or rural. That’s why connecting remote parts of America is one of our top priorities. We’re also collaborating with rural network providers to help build out additional LTE coverage and extend FirstNet’s reach in rural communities.

“Maine’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 Owen Smith, President, AT&T Maine. “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 and the Governor’s office, 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.

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.

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Candice Appiakorang