This We’ll Defend. At its core, the U.S Army’s motto signifies constant readiness – no matter the mission. And a critical element of strategic, tactical and operational readiness is communications. That’s why the FirstNet® team at AT&T was honored to join Lieutenant General Donnie Walker, deputy commanding general of Army Materiel Command and senior mission commander of Redstone Arsenal, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama to unveil the addition of new, purpose-built FirstNet cell sites. This new infrastructure provides U.S. Army public safety personnel – firefighters, law enforcement and security – with reliable, highly secure communications capabilities.
Redstone Arsenal has served for more than 50 years as the Army's center for missile and rocket programs. Numerous federal organizations have found Redstone Arsenal to be a place to build for the future, including the Department of Defense, FBI, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Over 44,000 professionals – soldiers, civilians and contractors – work at the Arsenal, which is spread over 38,400 acres of land. From rocket scientists to budget analysts, logisticians to firefighters, every employee of Redstone Arsenal makes a difference in the security and defense of our nation.
Army public safety personnel deserve reliable coverage to help them effectively and efficiently address incidents. And, with FirstNet – the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built for America’s first responders and the extended public safety community – that’s exactly what they’re getting.
The Army first explored the benefits of FirstNet during a pilot program in spring 2020 at the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point in North Carolina, which is part of the Army’s Materiel Command’s Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC). The Army also evaluated FirstNet’s capabilities with its fire and military police responders under storm conditions to better understand how they could benefit from FirstNet. And when Hurricane Laura made landfall in August 2020 with winds of 150-miles per hour, it carved a path straight across the Fort Polk installation in Louisiana, taking down trees and power lines and cutting communications. With FirstNet, they were able to transmit live video data without a break in signal or coverage.
These pilot programs allowed the Army to see the benefits of in-building signal boosters as well as FirstNet’s ease of use, resilience and the breadth of capabilities that could be available to each Army installation regardless of size or location. And in October 2020, the U.S. Army selected FirstNet to support firefighters, law enforcement and security personnel at 72 Army installations across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Now, U.S. Army public safety personnel have access to an unmatched level of support as well as mission-focused tools and technology they can’t get anywhere else.
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. FirstNet sites are 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.
The new infrastructure will also help improve the overall coverage experience for Redstone Arsenal tenants like the FBI and NASA, as well as AT&T wireless customers who work and visit Redstone Arsenal. Tenants and visitors can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when capacity is available.
Serving in the U.S. Army was one of the most meaningful experiences in my life, and through my work today I once again have the privilege of serving this vital community. At AT&T, we have long been committed to serving the public safety community and view it as both our obligation and our honor. We are proud to support the public safety mission at Redstone Arsenal by bringing greater access to the connectivity they need.