New cell tower site aims to “boost” connectivity for local residents, strengthen public safety
CAMBRIDGE, MD.- Always on whenever they need it.
That’s the goal of the new FirstNet cell site in Dorchester County.
I’m told, the ribbon cutting today was a celebration but also a win for public safety communication. “Being able to provide a secured, dedicated network called FirstNet is paramount to them because they can then securely do their job and not worry if their information is going to get trapped somewhere or caught up in a filter or another problem they could encounter,” said Senior Public Safety Advisor for FirstNet Authority’s Lori Stone.
Back in 2017, Governor Hogan opted into the FirstNet program for the state of Maryland.
Partnered alongside AT&T, there’s a commitment to build 25 sites to improve cellular coverage in rural areas. The newest site is on the property of Neck District Vol. Fire Company. “We’re definitely behind. We should’ve had this years ago actually but now with this it should help us tremendously,” said Chief of Neck District Vol. Fire Company’s Steve Webster.
The tower gives first responders 24 hour access. In an emergency, the Band 14 spectrum channel gives priority connectivity to network subscribers.
This allows local first responders to communicate in ways they couldn’t before. “The county radios sometimes are not as reliable as we would like so this will help us in disastrous situations,” said President of Neck District Vol. Fire Company’s Mike McKinley.
The tower will also expand connectivity ranges for several miles, providing more service for community members. “But from a safety situation, yes there have been instances in the Neck District where people have tried to call from roadside or some emergency situation and have not been able to get through with cell coverage. So it will certainly help that way as well,” said McKinley.
Ultimately, I’m told this initiative is crucial because without connectivity a life could be at risk. “We worked with the Neck District Vol Fire Department to get this where they said they needed it to be. So that’s what FirstNet is also about, answering first responders needs for communication,” said Stone.
This is the most recent site turned on in Maryland with a site in Church Creek established last year.