New FirstNet Cell Site Launches on the Echo Trail North of Ely to Support First Responders

AT&T Blog Team
September 19, 2022
Public Safety


New FirstNet Cell Site Launches on the Echo Trail North of Ely to Support First Responders

Third FirstNet Site in St. Louis County Will Help Advance Public Safety, Improve Connectivity for Area Residents and Visitors in Northern Minnesota

What’s the news? First responders in Northern Minnesota are getting 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 located on the Echo Trail just north of Ely near Twin Lakes and Everett Lake.

This FirstNet site will provide coverage when traveling along the Echo Trail in the remote wilderness of northeastern Minnesota. It will also 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 is the third FirstNet site in St. Louis County and the second on the Echo Trail. In 2021, we added a new site on the Echo Trail northwest of Ely near Meander Lake and Lake Jeanette State Forest – one of the first primarily powered by solar in the Midwest region. This site along the Echo Trail provided coverage to first responders who battled the Bezhik wildfire in May of 2021 just a few miles south of the tower. We also added a new site in 2021 in the Kabetogama State Forest near Kjostad Lake and west of Buyck.

Why is this important? We look at FirstNet as the most important wireless network in the country because it’s serving our first responders. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides dedicated mobile broadband. 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 being done with direct feedback from state and local public safety officials. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency.

FirstNet sites already launched in communities across Minnesota including Angle Inlet, Bagley, Baudette, Blackduck, Cloquet, Ely (Echo Trail, Meander Lake), Faribault, Gary, Hokah, Isabella, Peterson, Finlayson, Graceville, Grand Marais (Gunflint Trail), Grygla, Hovland, Kellogg, Lewiston, Orr (Kjostad Lake), Tofte (Lichen Lake), Togo and Williams.

What are the benefits to first responders? Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in Minnesota, we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable, unthrottled 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. Band 14 has been added on more than 800 sites across Minnesota, including in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, Rochester, St. Cloud, Goodhue, Mankato, Baudette, Brainerd, Baxter, Chippewa County, the Iron Range and Angle Inlet.

How does this help Minnesota residents? This new infrastructure will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in the area. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T commercial spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when capacity is available.

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 public safety truly dedicated coverage and capacity when they need it, including 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:

Paul Weirtz  

President, AT&T Minnesota

“We are excited to launch this new FirstNet site along the Echo Trail and provide critical wireless coverage in the remote wilderness of northern Minnesota. Minnesota’s first responders deserve reliable coverage across the state to help them effectively and efficiently address incidents. With FirstNet, that’s exactly what they’re getting. We have a responsibility unlike any other network provider, and we couldn’t be more pleased to support the public safety mission by bringing first responders, residents and visitors in St. Louis County greater access to the connectivity they need.”

Lisa Casias

Acting CEO, FirstNet Authority

“FirstNet is a dedicated broadband platform for public safety, by public safety. We worked hand-in-hand with the Minnesota 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 Minnesota’s first responders’ use of FirstNet to help them protect our communities when moments matter most.”

Where can I find more information? Go here to learn more about how AT&T is supporting Minnesota. For more about the value FirstNet is bringing to public safety, check out FirstNet.com. And go here for more FirstNet news.

FirstNet and the FirstNet logo are registered trademarks and service marks of the First Responder Network Authority. All other marks are the property of their respective owners. 

About the First Responder Network Authority

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Chartered in 2012, its mission is to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of the nationwide, broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities. Learn more at FirstNet.gov/mediakit and follow the FirstNet Authority (@FirstNetGov) on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

*About AT&T Communications

We help family, friends and neighbors connect in meaningful ways every day. From the first phone call 140+ years ago to mobile video streaming, we @ATT innovate to improve lives.

AT&T Communications is part of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T). For more information, please visit us at att.com.