MARIETTA — AT&T customers and FirstNet subscribers in Robeson County have received a boost in wireless connectivity, but one local leader says better internet service is needed.
AT&T recently added a new cell tower to enhance the area’s 4G LTE coverage, to give residents and first responders faster, more reliable wireless service, and help customers get the most out of their mobile devices, according to the telecommunications company.
The new site will improve coverage in the Marietta area and along N.C. 904 and Fair Bluff Road.
“While wireless connectivity is important for everyone, it is critical in rural areas, especially as people need to keep themselves and their families connected during the pandemic,” state Rep. Brenden Jones said. “Wireless broadband can be a game changer in so many ways, including education, health care and public safety. This is why we work hard in the General Assembly to ensure that North Carolina remains a state that attracts private investment in technology.”
Marietta Mayor Justin Oliver knows firsthand about the need for connectivity in the rural area. For some time he has been reaching out to state lawmakers about getting better broadband coverage for the area.
“We’ve got several big farmers in the area and they need cellular service and they need internet service with the type of GPS equipment they use,” Oliver said. “We don’t have a lot of businesses out here but farming is a business.”
Students participating in remote learning have struggled because of the lack of internet access.
“This will help cell service in Marietta, but we need internet service as well,” he said. “That’s what we’re concerned about, the lack of internet service.”
The tower is connected to AT&T’s network using AT&T fiber optics, according to the company. AT&T has more than 3.8 million strand miles of fiber optics covering North Carolina, enabling the company to offer a wide variety of products and services delivering the high-speed connectivity North Carolina businesses and residents need.
“We want our customers to have a great experience with AT&T 4G LTE service, whether they are streaming videos, engaged in distance learning or simply talking or texting with family and friends,” said Robert Doreauk, regional director of external affairs for AT&T North Carolina. “We consistently work to provide better coverage for the community and its first responders. And we’re investing in our wireless network to accomplish that.”
These upgrades will also benefit public safety and first responders on FirstNet.
FirstNet is built with AT&T in a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority. It’s designed to help first responders in North Carolina and across the country connect to the critical information they need — when they need it — so they can keep themselves and the communities they serve safer.
These enhancements also bring Band 14 spectrum to the area. Band 14 is nationwide, high-quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. Band 14 serves as public safety’s VIP lane. In an emergency, this band — or lane — can be cleared and locked just for FirstNet subscribers. When not in use by FirstNet subscribers, AT&T customers can use Band 14’s added coverage and capacity.