A year ago, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly was just arriving in the park, according to the Powell Tribune.
Shortly after unpacking he quickly began calling for improved connectivity.
With the future of the park including a phone in almost every visitor’s and employee’s pocket, Sholly promised better wireless internet access — without towers blocking the view to the park’s famous landscape.
Now, the park is seeking public comment on a proposal from a private company, AccessParks, to install up to 484 small (10-by-10-inch, or 7-inch diameter) antennas on employee housing and visitor lodging facilities at Canyon Village, Grant Village, Lake Village, Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful. Several dozen other antennas of various sizes would also be required to link to internet providers outside the park without building additional towers.
AccessParks says that boosting internet access in national parks can result in longer stays, more exploring and can help create more park advocates.
“We believe that by addressing the need for predictable, quality internet in remote lodging, RV parks and campgrounds, we are helping more people experience the outdoors we love, for longer periods of time, and with the untethered freedom of exploring confidently,” AccessParks says on its website.
While some visitors will be happy to have a better Wi-Fi connection, Sholly said his main priority is employees in the park.
“Providing connectivity to visitors is secondary to providing connectivity to the 3,000 to 4,000 Yellowstone National Park and concession employees — many of whom live and work in remote parts of the park,” Sholly said, adding, “Lack of connectivity is regularly cited as a major concern by employees and their families, and is unquestionably a major recruitment and retention issue.”
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