The state of Minnesota, with outlined county borders and a star locating Echo Trail, Minnesota; a cell tower.

New FirstNet Cell Site Primarily Powered by Solar Launches on Echo Trail to Support First Responders in Northern Minnesota

What’s the news? Northern Minnesota’s first responders are getting a 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 on the Echo Trail northwest of Ely near Meander Lake and Lake Jeanette State Forest – one of the first primarily powered by solar in the Midwest region.

This FirstNet site will provide coverage when traveling along the Echo Trail, located in the remote wilderness of northeastern Minnesota. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

This site, which launched May 18, has already provided coverage to first responders who battled the Bezhik Fire – a wildfire that began May 17 near Bezhik Lake, spread north to Moose Loop Road, and burned 782 acres just a few miles south of the new tower.

Why is this important? We look at FirstNet as the most important wireless network in the country because it’s serving 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 being done with direct feedback from state and public safety officials. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. Other FirstNet sites already launched in Minnesota communities include Bagley, Blackduck, Cloquet, Finlayson, Graceville, Grygla, Hovland, Isabella, Lewiston and Williams.

What are the benefits to first responders? Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in Minnesota, 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. Band 14 has been added on more than 600 existing sites across Minnesota, including markets such as the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester, the Iron Range, St. Cloud and the Brainerd/Baxter area.

How does this help Minnesota residents? 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 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 FirstNet Authority – an independent agency within the federal government. The FirstNet network is providing first responders 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 enable FirstNet to help fire, EMS, and law enforcement personnel save lives and protect their communities.

What people are saying:

Sheriff Ross Litman
Sheriff, St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office
“For our first responders battling the Bezhik Fire, this new FirstNet tower provided critical wireless coverage necessary for communication in a very remote area where we previously had poor to no coverage. FirstNet is helping give public safety the connectivity they need to communicate and coordinate emergency response efforts, especially in remote wilderness areas of St. Louis County.” 

Paul Weirtz  
President, AT&T Minnesota
“Minnesota’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’re pleased this new site could provide critical wireless coverage for the courageous fire fighters and first responders who battled and contained the Bezhik Fire near the Echo Trail. We have a responsibility unlike any other network provider, and couldn’t be more pleased to support the public safety mission by bringing first responders – and residents – greater access to the connectivity they need.”

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

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

For information on FirstNet products and services or to access your subscriber account, visit FirstNet.com.     

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