New FirstNet Cell Site Launches Near Columbus to Bring Expanded Coverage and Support Public Safety

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

Interstate 90 is getting a major boost in wireless communications for first responders and travelers thanks to a new, purpose-built FirstNet cell site near Columbus. The FirstNet site is one of several new sites throughout the state of Montana this year as part of AT&T’s continued effort to elevate connectivity and public safety communications. Plus, the new FirstNet site will give Columbus’ first responders unthrottled access to the nation’s fastest overall network experience.1

“Columbus is a key area for FirstNet because of the heavy interstate travel,” said Tara Thue, President of AT&T Mountain West States. “We know this area is a focus for safety enhancements for the residents of Columbus, cross-state travelers and visitors to the area.”

FirstNet is the nationwide, wireless communications platform dedicated to America’s first responders and public safety community. FirstNet is built with AT&T* through a public-private partnership with First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority)—an independent agency within the federal government. FirstNet gives priority and preemption to first responders in the event of an emergency and offers them the critical ability to communicate.

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. The Columbus site was 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. Band 14 has also been added on nearly 600 existing sites across Montana as part of the initial FirstNet build, giving areas such as Billings and Great Fall reliable, highly secure connectivity. 

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

In addition to further elevating public safety’s connected experience in support of their emergency response, these network enhancements 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. 

For more about the value FirstNet is bringing to public safety, check out

1Based on AT&T analysis of Ookla® Speedtest Intelligence® data median download speeds for Q3 2020. Ookla trademarks used under license and reprinted with permission.