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AT&T’s FirstNet Network Continues to Expand in The County for Public Safety Communications

Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 4:57 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - Public safety communication is now better in The County.

AT&T has expanded its FirstNet network with 32 new cell towers in The County to enhance public safety communications in the area. Owen Smith, the AT&T Maine President says the FirstNet network is built for all public safety to use. He says connecting rural and remote parts of the state has been a top priority.

“The benefit of FirstNet for public safety is incredible. And again, it’s the only national public safety network with priority and preemptions, it’s on all the time and you’ve got all of the applications and all of the devices that are currently now 4G LTE but will also expand into 5G when we expand our network. It’s huge for public safety.”

Smith says there is still work to be done to ensure better coverage for public safety workers and AT&T customers in The County, but he says AT&T is now at least on par with the other cell providers in the area.

VAN BUREN, ME (With files from 2017) - Lisa Brissette has been advocating for better cell phone service since her husband, Arthur passed away in January of 2017. She says Arthur died after emergency services took more than 20 minutes to reach him.

“He was heading to Caribou, he turned right outside of Van Buren, he turned on to Madore road because the weather was getting bad and he was turning to turn around. So he drove a little ways down Madore road to find a spot to turn and during a white out he got stuck in the snow bank.”

Arthur’s cell phone records showed his tried calling Lisa several times, but because he couldn’t get a signal he didn’t' get through.

“He left his truck and he walked half a mile and a young gentleman that lived on that road picked him up and brought him back to his truck, got his truck unstuck from the snowbank and as the young man was leaving he happened to look in his rear view mirror and a good thing that he did, he saw my husband collapse. He turned around to see what was going on and my husband was unresponsive.” Lisa says the whiteout conditions were so bad at the time the man didn’t want to leave her husband on the side of the road. “The snow was blowing all over my husband at that point, that’s what I was told by state police. Not only until he climbed in the back seat of his car to get a blanket for Arthur to cover him up, then he was able to reach 911. So 20-25 minutes past before the first ambulance got there.”

Brissette has worked with AT&T. The company says AT&T’s acquisition of Northeast Wireless Networks paired with the build out of FirstNet across the state will significantly improve AT&T’s Maine network and give Maine’s first responders access to critical, modern public safety resources.

“It has been a long road for Lisa Brissette, and we are honored to have the ability and opportunity to help with her mission to upgrade cellular network coverage in Van Buren.” Says Owen M Smith Jr, President-ME, NH, VT AT&T Services Inc.

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