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NPS Seeking Comments on Proposed Yellowstone WiFi Installation

The National Park Service is seeking comments about a proposed Yellowstone WiFi installation that would power indoor access for visitors and tourists across developed areas of the Park, including Canyon Village, Grant Village, Lake Village, Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful.

The proposed Yellowstone WiFi from AccessParks would deliver WiFi access to to park visitors and employees in hotels and housing in developed areas. Consistent with the Yellowstone National Park Wireless Communication Services Plan, wireless access to recommended wilderness and park road corridors would be excluded.

In total, AccessParks, which has would install up to 484 small (10 x 10 inch or 7 inch diameter) antennas on employee housing and visitor lodging facilities at Canyon Village, Grant Village, Lake Village, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Old Faithful. To link the antennas to internet providers outside the park, 39 additional antennas would be required and would include:

  • 29 x 9 inch antennas installed at various locations in the developed areas at Canyon Village, Grant Village, Lake Village, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Old Faithful
  • 6-foot-diameter antenna installed at an existing tower at Old Faithful
  • One 2-foot and one 3-foot-diameter antenna installed on the existing tower at Mount Washburn.

In an effort to have no adverse effect to historic properties or districts, many of the antennas on National Register of Historic Places eligible structures would be located in attic spaces or under eaves.

Exterior antennas would be located in areas to minimize visibility. Where visible, the installations would be painted to match the buildings on which they are installed. Examples are shown in the three following illustrations:

Proposed Yellowstone WiFi Proposed Yellowstone WiFi Proposed Yellowstone WiFi

Coverage could eventually extend to other developed areas such as Norris, Madison, and Bechler for administrative and employee use.

To make this happen, AccessParks would use existing infrastructure to power access to the proposed Yellowstone WiFi installations. No towers or antennas will be installed in or servicing backcountry areas, and there will be no new towers installed under this application. However, two microwave antennas would be put on the existing antenna support structure on Mount Washburn. These antennas would deliver service to the developed areas and would not broadcast Wi-Fi to visitors.

That an expansion of broadband at Yellowstone has been an inevitability, says Superintendent Cam Sholly, but his plan has been to implement upgrades in an unobtrusive fashion.

In an ideal world, visitors would turn off their cellphones during their Yellowstone National Park visits, preferring to commune with nature and patiently await an Old Faithful eruption or two. And, indeed, many visitors do indeed adopt this approach to a Yellowstone visit. But for others, being connected is part of everyday life. Whether it’s a family that wants to communicate with cellphones or the business professional who wants to hit the WiFi to stay connected with the office, it’s impossible to deny the inevitable. And that means acknowledging the future expansion of Yellowstone connectivity in the form of expanded WiFi and cell service. But you can expect plenty of negative comments about this WiFi installation.

You can read a full summary of the proposal here.

Comments must be received by November 29, 2019. Comments may be submitted online at: parkplanning.nps.gov, by hand-delivery, or by mail. Comments will not be accepted by fax, email, or by any other means.

Hand-deliver comments during business hours to: Albright Visitor Center, Attention: Access Parks Broadband Proposal, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190.

Mail comments to: Compliance Office, Attention: Access Parks Broadband Proposal, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190.

RELATED STORIES: Yellowstone Connectivity Upgrades Inevitable: ShollyImproved Yellowstone Cell Service On the Way, Despite Objections; Public Comment Sought on Mount Washburn Antenna Project; Additional Comment Sought on Fire Lookout Project; PEER Criticizes Yellowstone Over Cellphone Coverage

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