Talbot County’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications with the addition of a new, purpose-built cell site. The site – located in Tilghman Island – is part of the FirstNet network expansion taking place in Maryland, which is bringing increased coverage, capacity and capability to first responders across the state. Plus, the new sites will give Talbot County’s first responders access to the fastest overall network experience.1
FirstNet is the nationwide, wireless communications platform dedicated to America’s first responders and public safety community. It’s being built with AT&T* in a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) – an independent agency within the federal government. Backed by Congress, FirstNet is designed to strengthen and modernize public safety communications, helping first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency.
To ensure AT&T and the 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 in Maryland. The Tilghman Island site is the second FirstNet site to be publicly announced in Maryland following Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to advance the state’s public safety broadband communications with FirstNet. It’s located on Tilghman Island Road across from the Tilghman Island Volunteer Fire Department.
In addition to the purpose-built Tilghman Island cell site, public safety personnel, residents and visitors in the area will also benefit from an additional new AT&T cell site in the Bozman area located near Lostock Lane and Bozman Neavitt Road.
These 2 new sites were constructed using the FirstNet Band 14 spectrum as well as other spectrum bands in the AT&T commercial spectrum portfolio. Band 14 has also been and continues to be added to existing sites across Maryland, helping to further increase capacity and coverage available to Maryland’s first responders – like the Talbot County Department of Emergency Services, which recently subscribed to FirstNet.
Maryland Delegate Johnny Mautz, an advocate for improved broadband access in rural Maryland, hosted a ribbon cutting event at the site on Tilghman Island.
“Infrastructure for high speed broadband and cellular service is a critical need throughout rural Maryland and the Eastern Shore. Our first responders are no exception to unreliable cellular service and this type of infrastructure is essential to support their work. FirstNet is a national program and we welcome any and all investment supporting our efforts to establish a communications network for the future of the Eastern Shore. Thank you to the FirstNet Authority and AT&T, we strongly support your investment in our community; and thank you to all of our first responders,” said Mautz, who served on Maryland’s Task Force on Rural Internet, Broadband, Wireless and Cellular Service.
Mautz was joined by Clay Stamp, Talbot County Director of Public Safety and Chair of the Maryland EMS Board; Maryland Senator Addie Eckardt (District 37); Delegate Christopher Adams (District 37B); Walter F. “Pete” Landon, Director of Homeland Security, State of Maryland; Diane Rinaldo, Assistant Secretary, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Department of Commerce (Acting); local first responders; and representatives from the FirstNet Authority and AT&T.
“Maryland’s first responders called for better coverage on a dedicated network, so they can better protect our communities. Whether responding to a routine call, supporting a large event or managing an emergency incident, our first responders need a reliable network that advances their communications capabilities and makes their mission the priority. That’s exactly what FirstNet exists to do,” said Denis Dunn, president, AT&T Maryland. “We’re honored to team up with the FirstNet Authority and leaders across Maryland to build a network that better connects our first responders and our communities.”
In addition to further elevating public safety’s connected experience in support of their emergency response, the new sites 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. That’s critically important in this rural community, according Talbot County Chamber President Alan Silverstein.
“Our member companies, their employees, our year-round residents, and the thousands of visitors who join us every summer want better mobile broadband coverage, and that’s what they’ll have thanks to these sites. This is great news for our county,” Silverstein said.
Plus, these cell sites aren’t the only connectivity enhancements Talbot County’s public safety community will benefit from if they subscribe to FirstNet. A FirstNet Satellite Cell on Light Truck (SatCOLT) was also on display during the celebration.
This is a large, heavy-duty portable cell site that connects via satellite – not fiber. It’s part of the nationwide fleet of 75 deployable network assets available to FirstNet subscribers at no additional charge. Public safety agencies on FirstNet can request the equipment for added support during planned events or emergencies. The deployable network assets are essentially portable cell sites that are designed to keep FirstNet subscribers connected to the information they need, no matter where their mission takes them – allowing first responders to make rescues, communicate and coordinate their emergency response, or aid in recovery, even in the most remote parts of the state.
“NTIA is committed to serving the communications needs of public safety and pleased to see continued progress made to bring FirstNet coverage where public safety said they need it most,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce Diane Rinaldo. “This new critical infrastructure will help connect responders in underserved areas on the Eastern Shore and is a great example of what we can accomplish together as local, state and federal partners.”
“These new cell sites are an important step forward in public safety communications in Talbot County and the state of Maryland,” said FirstNet Authority Board Member David Zolet. “With FirstNet, first responders in Tilghman Island and Bozman get priority and preemption. This puts those on the frontline at the front of the line for access to the information they need to remain better connected, protected and more situationally aware. We look forward to supporting Talbot County first responders’ use of FirstNet to help them save lives and protect their community.”
For more about the value FirstNet is bringing to public safety, check out FirstNet.com.
1 Based on AT&T analysis of Ookla® Speedtest Intelligence® data average download speeds for Q2 2019. Ookla trademarks used under license and reprinted with permission.