Yellowstone National Park is seeking public comment on a proposal to improve telecommunications services in the park.
The proposed project would install fiber optic cables along existing roadways, and eventually, some microwave radio reflectors on mountaintops that are currently in use will be removed as they become obsolete.
"The telephone network in Yellowstone was built in 1980, and we've been trying to carry internet and data services over that for years," said Branch Chief of Technology for Yellowstone National Park Brett De Young. "It worked pretty well, until, you know, we became much more reliant on data, and so we really haven't been able to provide the services there."
The installation of fiber optic would greatly improve the park's existing phone and internet service and make it more reliable, De Young said. It won't increase the existing coverage areas though.
"The existing method for telephones to work, and any data connections, is just one microwave length that starts at Mammoth and bounces off a number of reflectors to go to Mount Washburn, where everything is distributed out from there," said De Young. "We have had that go down and when we do, then we lose everything except for just a few law enforcement radio channels."
De Young said that means losing telephone service, including 911.
Diamond Communications LLC is the company requesting the right of way permit to install the cables and it will pay for all up-front construction costs. If granted, the park will have the option to renew or terminate the permit in five years. Comments must be received by April 21, 2021 and can be submitted on the park planning website.
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