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REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and U.S Army officials announced new technology Thursday that they say will transform the military installation’s infrastructure in the future by boosting first responder and security personnel’s wireless communication abilities.

Gov. Ivey, joined by Deputy Commanding General U.S. Army Material Command Lieutenant General Donnie Walker, Vice Chair of the First Responder Network Authority Board of Directors Chief Richard Carrizzo, and President of AT&T Alabama Wayne Hutchens held a ribbon-cutting at the FirstNet Authority facility.

Redstone Arsenal called its partnership with FirstNet Authority built by AT&T a first of its kind for broadband communications in the country. The new partnership will help firefighters, law enforcement and security communicate effectively and efficiently with each other.

The new purpose-built FirstNet cell sites will enhance voice and mobile broadband coverage on the installation. It will also give first responders access to America’s public safety network.

In 2017, Ivey first opted into what FirstNet is all about. Which is, in their words, making public safety the top priority and improving broadband communications is key to that. Whether it’s a local, national or international military threat or weather emergencies that are so common in the 21st century.

“We had the vision early on that when emergency situations and jurisdictions blur, all first responders need direct lines of communications. Because there are no lines of jurisdiction in times of emergency, the work being done here is too important to not have proper connectivity and service,” Ivey said at the ceremony.

“It’s much more than cell sites and signal boosters. It’s truly, truly about saving lives,” Lt. Gen. Donnie Walker said at the ceremony. “Without communication, agencies cannot achieve the interoperability needed to bring vital resources to bear, especially when lives are at stake and time is of the essence. FirstNet gives us this capability. Security and safety of everyone who lives and works on this installation is job one. FirstNet is absolutely essential in that priority and pivotal in our efforts to improve the resilience of our installations. It is in a word, a game-changer.” 

Lt. Gen. Walker also mentioned the devastation of the 2011 weather disaster and the response to the terror attacks on 9/11 as a reason to upgrade the infrastructure and broadband communications. Especially in the rural parts of Alabama.

“It was devastating. Many people who work on the Arsenal right here at Redstone lost their homes. Power was lost across the entire area and the ability to communicate was sporadic at best,” he remembered.

The FirstNet build was planned with feedback from the U.S Army to help ensure Redstone Arsenal’s first responders can connect to the critical information they need.

“No doubt the expansion of broadband that we are celebrating here today will help in our efforts to prepare for the future, keep our communities safe. To ensure that Alabama remains a great place to live, work and raise a family,” Ivey said.

Ivey also said the new infrastructure at the Arsenal is a long-awaited breakthrough for the U.S military.