AccessParks, a broadband company that specializes in bringing the internet to remote places, wants to bring WiFi to more areas in more national parks. They already perform this service for US military bases and now they’ve set their sights on greatly expanding wifi service in Yellowstone National Park. AccessParks, along with concessionaire Xanterra Parks & Resorts, hopes to install high-speed internet service in hundreds of park buildings and popular attractions in Yellowstone. They’ve submitted a proposal to the National Park Service, which requested public comment on the plan a few weeks back—that public comment period ends tomorrow, and you can have your say here.
“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 their website. “The outdoors should be a part of everyone’s life, especially younger generations. When parents can keep up with work for an hour in the evening, the kids benefit from longer stays.”
Would More Internet Benefit National Park Visitors?
The company argues that having internet connectivity at national parks would mean longer, more restorative stays for visitors since they wouldn’t have to leave to deal with issues back home that could be handled over WiFi, a greater wealth of instant information about park features and wildlife, and safety in the form of hiking maps, weather and fire conditions, as well as 911 call availability in the frontcountry.
Bringing that level of connectivity to Yellowstone would mean the construction of five microwave antenna stations, several backcountry repeater stations, a dozen wireless antennae spaced throughout the park, and hundreds of wireless transceivers fixed to buildings. The system would blanket Canyon Village, Grant Village, Lake, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Old Faithful.
Many of the buildings slated to have the transceivers installed are either already listed in the National Register of Historic Places or are eligible for inclusion; AccessParks suggests they’re more than capable of installing the equipment without harming the unique character of the park’s buildings. As for the installation of towers and other infrastructure harming the park, AccessPArks says: “We have 13 years of experience solving the hardest connectivity problems in the world, with extreme sensitivity to environmental impact.”
Interestingly, the NPS reports that, assuming a successful rollout, the system could be expanded to more NPS properties. “We anticipate that the installation will be expanded in the future to offer the same service to the NPS and other concessioners,” the NPS said in a statement.
Again, should you wish to weigh in on the addition of broadband to Yellowstone, you have until Tuesday, November 12, at 11:59 pm MT.
Is AccessParks right? Would you be more inclined to spend extended periods in national parks if they had better internet?
As an incentive for conversation, we’re giving away a copy of Adventure Journal to one commenter chosen at random. You can choose any issue we have in stock, and if you’re already a subscriber we can extend your sub by an issue, send you an issue you don’t have, or give one to a friend. Just include your email when you post your comment so we can get in touch.
Top photo: NPS