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Reader's view: Wireless communications help firefighters do their jobs

The horrific Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness wildfire at Pagami Creek was a wake-up call in Lake County and across the Iron Range. Thanks to the tireless and heroic efforts of firefighters, law enforcement and first responders, the fire was...

The horrific Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness wildfire at Pagami Creek was a wake-up call in Lake County and across the Iron Range. Thanks to the tireless and heroic efforts of firefighters, law enforcement and first responders, the fire was contained and the damage minimized. The consequences for nearby communities could have been devastating with lives lost and homes consumed by the massive blaze.

Part of the reason firefighters were able to battle the fire so effectively was wireless communications. Fortunately, AT&T set up emergency equipment to aid communications during the disaster and helped first responders coordinate activities.

As a Lake County commissioner, I've pushed for enhanced mobile communications across the county for emergency situations such as this. When lives are at stake, we need to have the security that high-speed wireless technology provides. It can be a life-saver.

That's also one of the reasons I've been a vocal and active supporter of the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. The combined efficiencies and resources realized through the merger would deliver mobile broadband to areas of Lake County that wouldn't otherwise have it.

If the merger is approved, AT&T would be able to deploy wireless broadband to virtually the entire state and achieve Gov. Mark Dayton's goal of delivering broadband to Minnesota's four corners.

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Access to next-generation, ultra high-speed wireless broadband could be transformative for our region. In addition to the practical concerns for safety, our residents would have access to the latest devices, applications and innovative services for health education and commerce.

I urge our state and federal leaders to first thank our first responders for helping us avoid what could have been a tragic loss of life and property and second, to do everything they can to get broadband across Minnesota. Our lives and livelihoods depend upon it.

Thomas Clifford

Silver Bay

The writer represents the 1st District on the Lake County Board.

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