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John Joyce talking outside in front of a fire truck during a press event in Huntingdon County, PA.

The FirstNet Network Expands in Shade Gap to Advance Public Safety Communications Capabilities in Pennsylvania

December 13, 2022

New Infrastructure Will Help Advance Public Safety, Improve Connectivity for Area Residents and Visitors

What’s the news? Huntingdon County’s first responders are getting another major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet network expansion currently underway by AT&T. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located in Shade Gap near the Shade Gap Volunteer Fire Company. This new site is giving first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

The new site was the focus of a special event at the Shade Gap Volunteer Fire Company, featuring Congressman John Joyce, M.D.; State Senator Judy WardState Rep. Rich Irvin; local first responders; county leaders; and representatives from AT&T.

Why is this important? We consider FirstNet the most important wireless network in the country because it serves our first responders. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides dedicated mobile broadband. To ensure AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) are putting coverage and capacity where first responders need it most, the FirstNet build is guided by direct feedback from state and public safety officials. This helps ensure Pennsylvania’s first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. After consultation with state and local officials, this location was selected to fill a coverage gap in this rural county.

This is the most recent purpose-built site in the Commonwealth, and the second in Huntingdon County. Other purpose-built sites were turned on in Bedford, Cameron, Clearfield, Clinton Forest, Jefferson, Lycoming, McKean, Potter, Somerset, Sullivan, Tioga and Venango Counties.

What are the benefits to first responders? Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in Pennsylvania we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable, unthrottled connectivity and modern communications tools they need. These sites were constructed using Band 14 spectrum, as well as AT&T commercial spectrum. Band 14 is nationwide, high-quality spectrum set aside by the 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.

How does this help local residents? This new infrastructure will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers around Shade Gap and along US-522, SR-35 and SR-641. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when capacity is available.

What is FirstNet? 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. 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 – an independent agency within the federal government. The FirstNet network provides public safety with truly dedicated coverage and capacity when they need it, including unique benefits like always-on priority and preemption, and high-quality Band 14 spectrum. These advanced capabilities enable FirstNet to help fire, EMS, EMA, law enforcement and 9-1-1 personnel save lives and protect their communities.

What people are saying:

Congressman John Joyce, M.D.
“When lives are at stake, ensuring our first responders are able to effectively communicate must be a top priority. The FirstNet technology that is being deployed here in Huntingdon County will be an incredible resource to emergency service personnel who work each day to serve our community.”

State Senator Judy Ward
“Every industry benefits from better mobile broadband connections – from agriculture and health care to education and manufacturing.  And, our residents want to know that our first responders will be connected during emergencies. That’s why I am so excited that AT&T, FirstNet and local leaders were able to come together to get this new site online.  This is great news for Shade Gap and Huntingdon County.” State Rep. Richard Irvin

“Huntingdon County has long been a victim of wireless coverage gaps, which has been a detriment to emergency responders, health care providers, schools, businesses and private citizens. FirstNet is a welcome solution to this problem that will enable the first responder community to provide a higher quality of service, while also benefitting the rest of the community that use AT&T with increased wireless service capabilities.”

Chief Rick McMullen-, Shade Gap Area Volunteer Fire Company
“Many times when we are on emergency alarms such as motor vehicle accidents, the persons involved are unable to call anyone from the scene of their accidents due to not having cell phone service. With the addition of this tower, patients or others involved will not have to leave the incident scene to find help. This will help cut down emergency response times, and we will be able to provide emergency services to those in need in a timelier fashion. The installation of this cell phone tower is a welcome and needed addition.  It will help the Shade Gap area connect more effectively with those around us.”

David Kerr, President, AT&T Pennsylvania
“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. We have a responsibility unlike any other network provider, and couldn’t be more pleased to support the public safety mission by bringing Huntingdon County’s first responders – and residents – greater access to the connectivity they need.”

Lisa Casias, Acting CEO, FirstNet Authority
“FirstNet is a dedicated broadband platform for public safety, by public safety. We worked hand-in-hand with Pennsylvania’s public safety community to understand their needs for the network. And this new site is a prime example of how that input and feedback is becoming reality. We look forward to supporting Pennsylvania’s first responders’ use of FirstNet to help them save lives and protect our communities.”

Where can I find more information? Go to to learn more about how AT&T is supporting Pennsylvania. For more about the value FirstNet is bringing to public safety, check out And go here for more FirstNet news.


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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