The FirstNet Responder Network sent an aerostat, popularly known as a blimp, to Cameron Parish, Louisiana to supply immediate cell phone coverage in the wake of Hurricane Laura. The 55-foot floating cell tower is a quick and effective way to help get people connected after a disaster and is the 76th FirstNet blimp to go into service, reports TeleCompetitor.com.
“These assets provide first responders with similar capabilities and connectivity as a cell tower,” said Jason Porter, the Senior Vice President for the FirstNet at AT&T. “And no other wireless network provider has deployable network assets dedicated solely and exclusively to public safety, backed by the oversight of the First Responder Network Authority, to help ensure public safety has connectivity when and where they need it.”
The tethered FirstNet blimp can stay aloft for up to two weeks and links via either satellite or wireline backhaul. Another advantage to the aerostat is that it can deliver coverage over twice as much area as a SatCOLT or COW can.
Last June, the nationwide responder network moved to invest $200 million to update the network from LTE to 5G. An AT&T spokesperson noted that the multi-phase initiative will start with the FirstNet network core. More developments were announced in July when FirstNet said that over 700 U.S. markets will make Band 14 spectrum available to its first responders.
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