Yellowstone National Park is proposing improving cell and internet service in part of its 2.2-million-acre national park. The Jackson Hole News & Guide reported that a fiber line is being vetted along 187 miles of road in the park.
The National Park Service is reviewing a Diamond Communications plan to upgrade service from an existing microwave radio system that dates back to 1980. The legacy system can no longer sustain the park’s needs for business operations, employee communications, and emergency communications and operations, especially in the summer months.
The proposed fiber line will give visitors and park employees the ability to attach files to emails, enable faster credit card transactions, allow for more reliable cell connections and text messages that go through during the busiest of times in developed parts of the park. “The project is needed because existing communication systems are at capacity and do not function as intended during peak season,” Yellowstone officials wrote in a “scoping document,” now open to public comment.
According to Yellowstone telecommunications chief Bret De Young, the difference in service upgrades in developed parts of the park where cell coverage is permitted will be “noticeable.” Visitors, for example, would be able to upload videos to Facebook, De Young added.
Burying the fiber-optic line would allow Yellowstone to eventually remove the 40-year-old microwave radio reflectors located on mountains and in the backcountry. Installing the new line would take about three years, potentially starting in 2021, reported The News & Guide.