Despite criticism, Yellowstone National Park is pushing forward on improving cell service in the park. The service improvement comes after Verizon Wireless applied to develop its five existing telecommunication sites in the park.
Critics say this will ruin the wilderness of the country’s first national park. Bret De Young, the park’s telecommunications chief, also likes to get away.
”I myself like to go where my phone doesn’t work to get the digital detox,” he said.
But he said the current project will only improve the existing cell service in the park, not expand it.
“If you had really cheap Wi-Fi in your house, [and it] took a page several hours to load, buying better service wouldn't expand the footprint but would allow that page to load faster,” he explained.
De Young also stressed the current project is in line with Yellowstone’s telecommunication plan, which outlines there will only be service in areas of development like Old Faithful. De Young said the current service is weak and could pose a public safety issue.
”The main problem is that you can get a signal but there's no throughput. There’s no capacity,” he said. “It’s basically due to a really aging telecommunication infrastructure that was built just to provide voice telephone service to hotel rooms back in the 70s and 80s.”
Mount Washburn, a popular vista point, will be closed for the rest of the season as a result of the project.