Yellowstone Asks: Short Term Delays For Long Term Internet?

Yellowstone Asks: Short Term Delays For Long Term Internet?

Written by on March 24, 2021

Yellowstone National Park is making changes for its future, which could mean better internet connection in the park’s connected corridors.

Yellowstone Fiber Optic Cable Map

Courtesy National Park Service

America’s first national park is preparing for Summer 2021 and planning for its future. For the next month, Yellowstone officials seek public input on a lengthy project that will serve many needs of the park and its visitors.

A public comment period for a massive park-wide internet project is open as of this week. Under the proposal, Diamond Communications, LLC would replace the park’s antiquated microwave telecommunication systems with fiber optic cable. The same company will remove all the infrastructure needed for the microwave system at the same time.

Rubber-tracked vehicles will be installing the conduit alongside the roadways, burying it in the ground. The entire project will cover 187 miles of Yellowstone’s roads –  the whole Grand Loop road and the South Entrance corridor.

Speed reductions and 30-minute traffic delays are anticipated while the installation occurs.

Courtesy National Park Service

The timeline for the complete fiber optic cable installation and the related delays is three years.

Faster, more reliable internet would be much more than just a luxury in the park. It has been an increasing need for administrative and business purposes.

Bandwidth on the existing microwave radio system no longer meets the park’s needs for business operations, employee communications, and emergency communications and operations.

Furthermore, duty stations for the park’s permanent and seasonal staff can be extremely remote. Internet connections are not reliable at those stations, making recruitment and retention difficult for both the NPS and its business partners.

Broadband internet will be available at all the park’s populated areas, like Old Faithful and Canyon Village. All communications – including telephone, 911, and computer networks – will be vastly improved.

What won’t improve? Your cell service.

The project does not call for any new cell towers or expansion of the park’s authorized cellular cover (currently 8% of its area.)

This is the second time park officials have opened a public comment period for the project. The previous period ended in October 2020.

Public comments on the project are being accepted until April 21. Comments may be submitted online or by mail. The address for mail submissions is:

Compliance Office

Attention: Fiber Optic Project

P.O. Box 168

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 82190.

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