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Environment & Science

Yellowstone National Park Updates WiFi Expansion Proposal, Seeks Comment

A sign near Gardiner, Montana, sits near the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park, May 16, 2019.
Rachel Cramer
/
Yellowstone Public Radio
Yellowstone National Park Updates WiFi Expansion Proposal, Seeks Comment

Yellowstone National Park is seeking public comment on an updated proposal to replace, improve and expand existing Wi-Fi access in some areas.

Xanterra Travel Collection, the company that runs a handful of hotels, restaurants and campgrounds in Yellowstone, reached out to a wireless network company last year to propose boosting internet speeds in certain developed areas of the park. That includes some historic buildings.

A Yellowstone official said AccessPark’s proposal to the National Park Service received over 3,000 public comments in November.

In March, AccessParks released an updated proposal with more photo simulations of the potential installations.

Yellowstone said in a press release on May 27 that people can review the new images and submit additional public comments by Jun. 10 via mail or online.

The proposal does not call for any new towers or for getting internet service into backcountry areas or campgrounds.

It would allow for the installation of up to 484 small antennas in or on employee housing and visitor lodging at Canyon, Grant and Lake Villages, Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful. Thirty nine additional antennas would be installed at these sites, along with Fishing Bridge and the Mount Washburn fire lookout, to deliver service directly to the developed areas, not to broadcast Wi-Fi signals.

The proposal says all exterior antennas would be located out of view wherever possible and, if visible, the installations would be painted to match the buildings on which they are installed.

Wi-Fi services could eventually be installed in facilities at other developed areas such as Norris, Madison and Bechler for administrative and employee use only. Under the park’s current wireless plan, the public would not be given access to the Wi-Fi service in these areas.

Yellowstone allows Wi-Fi anywhere cellular service is allowed, with the exception of the Old Faithful Inn and Lake Hotel.

If approved by the National Park Service, the project would be funded by Xanterra.