The announcement of the wireless expansion by the National Park Service comes after months of discussions and public comments on a plan first announced last fall. It’s actually more limited than what was first proposed. The plan restricts towers, antennas, and wireless services to a few limited locations in the park, in order to protect park resources and limit the impact on park visitors.
Under the plan, cell-phone service will be expanded to Fishing Bridge/Lake Village. However, cell towers will not be allowed in recommended wilderness, in campgrounds, or along park road corridors. No cell phone service will be allowed in the vast majority of Yellowstone, according to a Park Service release, but conversationists argue that it would allow six new towers covering most of the figure-eight road throughout — something Park officials dispute. Cell service is currently limited to the immediate vicinity of Canyon, Grant Village, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Old Faithful.
In response to public comments, the plan calls for the future relocation of the cell tower at Old Faithful to reduce its visibility, and for the park to explore design options intended to reduce the visual impacts of equipment located on Mt. Washburn.
Park concessioners would be allowed to offer WiFi service in some buildings. In response to comments, WiFi will be prohibited in the Old Faithful Inn and the Lake Hotel in order to preserve the historic lodging experience. Concession operators will be permitted to offer WiFi service in other park lodging and general stores.
The plan also calls for Yellowstone to actively promote the courteous and respectful use of cell phones and WiFi devices and to establish and sign “cell phone free zones” in the Park.
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