A native son of south central Kentucky, Warren County Sheriff Jerry “Peanuts” Gaines is devoted to serving his community. His mission: to ensure the safety of citizens and responders and to deliver the best non-emergency services available. His partner in that mission is Bluegrass Cellular, the first regional wireless carrier in the nation to participate in the Verizon Wireless LTE in Rural America (LRA) program.
Sheriff Gaines explained that communications plays a vital role in virtually every operation he’s responsible for within this 548-square-mile county, making the speed, reliability and reach of wireless connections critically important.
“For over a decade, I have used Bluegrass Cellular for the wireless voice and data needs of my office,” said Sheriff Gaines. With Bluegrass’s participation in the LRA program, the Sheriff’s Department now benefits from 4G LTE speed. He adds, “My patrol deputies and supervisory personnel are equipped with 4G LTE air cards, which allow them to access state and local motor vehicle and criminal records from their mobile data terminals in the field. We depend on these communications in both routine and emergency situations.”
Bluegrass Cellular is one of 21 participants in the Verizon Wireless LRA program. Verizon Wireless provides the largest area of 4G LTE network coverage in rural areas in the United States*. Through the LRA program, started in 2010 to bring the benefits of high-speed mobile broadband to rural communities on a quicker timetable, Verizon Wireless leases its 700 MHz upper C Block spectrum to rural companies and works with them to build and operate 4G LTE networks in their areas. To date, 18 participants have launched their networks, which cover more than 2.3 million people and more than 70,000 square miles.
The rural networks extend the 4G LTE footprints for both Verizon Wireless customers and customers of other companies participating in the LRA program. Those customers can roam on Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE network throughout the U.S., as well as the networks of all the other rural participants. Verizon Wireless customers can also roam on the rural companies’ networks.
Stephen Harmon, the Sheriff Department’s division manager of support services, said officers use their 4G LTE-powered mobile data terminals to share documents, and to access and verify warrants using the state’s new E-Warrant system. In the near future, the network will also assist the department to track patrol vehicles.
“The 4G LTE network plays an important role in keeping our officers safe,” Harmon said. “We don’t want an officer sitting with a suspect for a long period of time waiting for a judge to approve an arrest warrant. With 4G LTE coverage and speed, a warrant can be signed by a judge and quickly transmitted to an officer in the field so he can make the arrest.”
Wireless internet connections also mean officers can establish real-time contact with dispatch and access reporting systems, giving them a level of privacy that was impossible when all communications were transmitted over radios, which can be monitored by news media and the general public.
“We like the fact that Bluegrass Cellular is local,” Harmon said. “If there’s an issue we can go to their office and get immediate attention. And thanks to the speed and reliability that resulted from their 4G LTE partnership with Verizon Wireless, they provide us with coverage that is hands-down better than any local competitor. In our business, you can’t put a price on the value of real-time communications.”
Sheriff Gaines agrees. “We appreciate the partnership between Bluegrass Cellular and Verizon Wireless. Bluegrass Cellular continues to be the leader in our area for coverage and cost of service. I also appreciate the knowledge and experience of our Bluegrass Cellular representative Bryan Franklin,” he said. “It all comes down to this: If you dial someone or try to log onto a database, you know you’re more than likely going to connect.”
·Based on square miles covered in counties with a population density less than 100 people per square mile.