New FirstNet Cell Site Launches in Waubay Near Lake Traverse Reservation to Support First Responders

New Infrastructure Will Help Advance Public Safety, Improve Connectivity for First Responders and Expand Rural Broadband Coverage for Residents and Visitors

What’s the news? First responders in Waubay and the surrounding area, got 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  in Waubay, northwest of Watertown and near Webster and the southwestern side of the Lake Traverse Reservation, to 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 new site will increase coverage and capacity for first responders in Waubay and tribal first responders serving the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation.

Why is this important? We consider FirstNet the most important wireless network in the country because it serves our first responders. FirstNet is for all first responders – whether rural, tribal, urban or suburban. That’s why extending the FirstNet network in rural, tribal and remote parts of America is a top priority. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides dedicated mobile broadband when needed. 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 guided by direct feedback from state and public safety officials. This helps ensure South Dakota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. The new site is critical for first responders. In addition to providing coverage in the Waubay-area, the new site will also deliver coverage for local residents and visitors out on the lakes in the area, where coverage had been lacking. 

What are the benefits to first responders? Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in South Dakota, we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable 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.

How does this help local residents? This new infrastructure will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in the Waubay-area and eastern Day County.  Residents and visitors can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when capacity is available. The expanded coverage provided by the new cell site will improve public safety for travelers and local residents alike by increasing first responders’ ability to communicate in the event of an emergency.

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 provides 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, EMA, law enforcement, and 9-1-1 personnel save lives and protect their communities.

What people are saying:

Jim Pearson, Emergency Management Department, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate.

“This new site will enhance connectivity for first responders and residents across the Lake Traverse Reservation. Not only will the site provide enhanced signal strength for data transfer in our police cars, law enforcement can now travel the entire reservation and connect to voice and data on FirstNet devices, ultimately benefiting public safety across our tribal lands.”

Cheryl Riley, President, AT&T Northern Plains States

“AT&T knows how important it is for customers to stay connected. That’s why we continue to be focused on making investments in South Dakota. We are boosting network reliability and capacity as we expand the network across the state to deliver much needed service to areas such as Waubay and the Lake Traverse Reservation. This will help residents and first responders to get the best possible experience over the AT&T and FirstNet networks.”  

Adam Jorgenson, Waubay Fire Chief

“Waubay and the surrounding area is home to a number of lakes that attract a significant number of visitors for fishing and boating. We were concerned about public safety given the lack of coverage out on the lakes, making the need for a FirstNet site in Waubay imperative to support our local rescue efforts.”

Edward Parkinson, CEO, FirstNet Authority

“FirstNet is a dedicated broadband platform for public safety, by public safety. We worked hand-in-hand with South Dakota’s 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 South Dakota’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 South Dakota.  For more about the value FirstNet is bringing to public safety, check out And go here for more FirstNet news. 

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