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FirstNet expands its deployables, cell sites

FirstNet-AT&T has expanded its fleet of portable land- and air-based cell sites for temporary coverage, with more than 100 deployables now available to FirstNet subscribers at no additional charge.

The new deployables include three Communications Vehicles (CVs) stationed across the country, four micro satellite Cell on Light Truck (SatCOLTs), 10 additional regular SatCOLTs and two new deployables in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The various options serve different public safety purposes. The CVs, for example, are meant to provide an additional layer of communications capabilities in the form of a mobile command center, either to support training exercises or in emergency deployments; they provide LTE and/or Wi-Fi connectivity like a SatCOLT, but with an air-conditioned command space that is outfitted with multiple monitors, charging stations and a television, a large exterior screen and speakers for briefings. The CVs also have a generator that can run for several days, FirstNet-AT&T said, and have a mini-fridge, microwave, bunk and lavatory.

The micro SatCOLTS are designed to be deployed quickly and easily by one person, while the regular SatCOLTs are more akin to large cellular macro towers. FirstNet-AT&T said that the regular SatCOLTS are being housed in more than 50 locations around the country so that they can be delivered to first responders within 14 hours of an emergency request. Meanwhile, for U.S. island territories, FirstNet says that it has worked with local network providers to have dedicated assets ready for deployment in Puerto Rico and the three U.S. Pacific territories (the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa) and the two new deployables in the U.S. Virgin Islands are available for immediate support in that U.S. territory.

FirstNet’s budget for this fiscal year included $218 million in network reinvestment that focused on expanding the deployables fleet and laying the groundwork for network upgrades to 5G. Around this time last year, the organization only had 72 deployables.

AT&T has also upgraded or built a number of new cellular sites with Band 14 700 MHz availability for FirstNet subscribers. Recently announced locations include:

-A new, purpose-built cell site 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, according to FirstNet-AT&T. The site was officially launched on May 18 and FirstNet said it was immediately put to use to provide coverage to firefighters working the Bezhik wildfire that started May 17 and burned nearly 800 acres south of the new tower.

-A new cell site southwest of Wagner, S.D. on the Yankton Sioux Reservation near Marty, S.D., in southern Charles Mix County.

-Tiverton, New Jersey, with the site located off Main Street.

Iron County, Wisconsin gained a new site that serves the western part of the town of Oma near Pine Lake and provides coverage along Highway 51 north and south of Pine Lake.

-In Berkeley County, South Carolina, AT&T added a new site specifically for FirstNet purposes to improve LTE and HD Voice Service to enhance coverage along US 311 in Cross, between Nelson Hill and Hwy 176, as well as new LTE sites to boost coverage along US 41 in Huger, between Woodland and Shulerville, along US 17 in Bonneau, SC between Alvin, SC and Old Cordesville, and along SC-41 in Jamestown, between Oak Ridge and Bethera.


Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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