Now that the environmental impact study is complete, Yellowstone National Park is accepting public comment regarding a proposal to bury nearly 200 miles of fiber optic cable along park roadways. As shared by the YNP official Twitter account,

When I first read the headline, I was worried that this telecommunications upgrade was an attempt to expand mobile coverage in Yellowstone. Limited cell service is one of the things I really enjoy about trips to Yellowstone. It forces visitors to put down their devices for a day. It allows you to truly unplug, without the constant urge to check your email or social media accounts. I feel like the last thing America's first National Park needs is more cell service.

Michael Smith,Newsmakers

Thankfully, that's not what this proposal is about. According the news release, YNP currently offers cell service in just 8% of the park. Namely, high congestion areas like Old Faithful, Mammoth and a handful of other visitor centers. Adding the proposed fiber optic line does NOT increase the coverage area. Instead, it will offer faster/better connections in the areas where service is already available. The proposal would also remove five large (28ft. x 24ft.) microwave tower antennas that are currently scattered around backcountry areas of the park.

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The only real drawback in the proposal is construction traffic delays for the next three years, (expected to last up to 30 minutes at a time) on the parks already overloaded roads. No new cell towers would be constructed under the proposal.

Credit: Johnny Vincent, Townsquare Media

Comments must be received by April 21, 2021. Comments may be submitted online at parkplanning.nps.gov/fiberEA or by mail. Mail comments to: Compliance Office, Attention: Fiber Optic Project, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190.

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Today these parks are located throughout the country in 25 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The land encompassing them was either purchased or donated, though much of it had been inhabited by native people for thousands of years before the founding of the United States. These areas are protected and revered as educational resources about the natural world, and as spaces for exploration.

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