First responders serving the Red Cliff Reservation in Wisconsin will soon be receiving a major boost in their access to broadband communications with the addition of a new, purpose-built cell site. The site, located on tribal land north of the Legendary Waters Casino & Resort, is part of the FirstNet network expansion taking place in Wisconsin. The FirstNet network is bringing increased coverage, capacity and capability to first responders across the state. Additionally, the new FirstNet site will give Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s first responders access to the fastest overall network experience.
FirstNet is the nationwide, wireless communications platform dedicated to America’s first responders and public safety community. Backed by Congress, it is designed to modernize public safety communications, helping first responders connect to the critical information they need, every day and in every emergency. 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.
This site will be located near the Apostle Islands in the northern part of the reservation. Public safety stakeholders identified this location as a prime spot for increased network coverage and capacity to better support emergency communications.
“When emergencies happen, it is critical that tribal law enforcement, firefighters and paramedics have the reliable communications tools they need to keep the tribal members and surrounding community safe while also protecting visitors to tribal lands,” said Theron Rutyna, IT director for the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. “Breaking ground on this new cell site will not only support the public safety mission, but also it will pave the way for new technical capabilities and innovations, furthering economic opportunity and extending access to telehealth, online learning and overall communications during emergencies.”
The FirstNet network is 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. Beyond elevating public safety’s connected experience in support of their emergency response, the new site will help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in the area.
It is being constructed using the FirstNet Band 14 spectrum and other spectrum bands in the AT&T commercial spectrum portfolio. Communities can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands along with Band 14 when additional capacity is available.
Scott VanderSanden, president of AT&T Wisconsin, said that Wisconsin’s first responders need reliable coverage to help them effectively and efficiently address emergency situations.
“With FirstNet, that’s exactly what they’re getting,” he said. “We worked closely with the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa to successfully reach this stage of the network buildout, and I am happy to see this new site will increase the reach and reliability of the network to better support the Public Safety mission and bring first responders and residents greater access to the connectivity they need.”
As part of its government program, the FirstNet Authority consulted with Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa to address the public safety communications needs on the reservation with regard to the deployment of FirstNet.
FirstNet Authority board member Paul R. Patrick said that the FirstNet Authority is honored to support the responders of the Red Cliff Reservation in their critical, lifesaving work. “We are working hand-in-hand with Red Cliff to understand their needs for the network and are pleased to see them leading the way on FirstNet as the first tribal community to break ground on a new FirstNet site,” he said. “We look forward to supporting tribal communities from across the country as they use FirstNet to help their first responders save lives and protect communities.”
April Ward is senior media relations advisor at the First Responder Network Authority.