Wireless coverage in state parks is an ongoing issue as territories can be vast, and dotting the landscape with cell towers is not an option. To bring better coverage to Yellowstone National Park, the National Park Service has approved a plan to install fiber cable along 187 miles of its roadways, reports the Powell Tribune. The cable would replace what were considered unsightly 1980’s era microwave radio reflectors, undisguised 28-by-24-foot panels.
“It doesn’t change the footprint of cellular coverage in any way. The intent is not to cover the roadways or the backcountry, though you get a little bit of spillover, and we’re always trying to manage that,” said Yellowstone telecommunications chief, Bret De Young.
An official release from Park officials states, “The project is needed because existing communication systems are at capacity and do not function as intended during peak season.”
The project is expected to take three years as crews lay the fiber optic cables, trying to stay as close to the road as possible. The installation method was described as a “vibrating plow” that would run parallel to the road and burying the cable approximately three feet deep. Park officials have clarified that the plans follow the wireless communications plans that were put in place in 2009. No new areas have been opened up for cell reception, but previously approved areas will have better connections.
Those identified as most likely to benefit from the upgrades are Park officials, who will have more reliable coverage within Park boundaries. Tourists in popular high traffic areas are also expected to experience much better connections, especially during peak season.