Take ‘Paradise,’ Put Up a Cell Phone Lot

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mount-ranierIt may be just another day in Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park, but the most-visited area in the park isn’t seeing sunny cell service. Verizon and T-Mobile hope to change spotty service in Paradise, having applied for wireless communication facilities installations on the mountain’s south side.

The Olympian reported cell coverage is “notoriously sketchy” in this location and along the road above Longmire where numerous visitors climb and where rescue operations are launched. This week the park stated that towers would not be required.

The proposal instead suggests equipment be placed in the attics of the Jackson Visitors Center and antennas mounted on the interior of the east and west ends of the building. The antennas would be placed behind fiberglass panels designed to match the building’s exterior.  

The park’s board of review began looking into better coverage after ranger Margaret Anderson was shot and killed by a visitor in 2012. That’s when board recommended that the park “update standard operating procedures related to communication during crisis,” reported the Olympian.

Park Superintendent Randy King told the News Tribune that year agencies responding to the shooting had “trouble communicating in the park because of the lack of cell phone reception. I think you could at least [provide coverage] within those high-activity, high-visitation corridors.” Currently, park officials communicate by radio.

T-Mobile and Verizon’s application brings the National Environmental Policy Act into play, so there will be a two-week period for public comment.

December 1, 2016

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