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Will 4G LTE Be Coming To Yellowstone Soon? Some Would Prefer That It Not.

Yellowstone Morning Glory Pool in the Old Faithful Area
Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Area

Yellowstone Park officials are in discussions with CenturyLink about installing a $34 million fiber optic line through the nearby Grand Teton National Park.

The line would serve the interior of Yellowstone and dramatically improve Internet connectivity for campers.

A group called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) used a public record request to obtain details on the project.

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PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch said,

Yellowstone’s original decision to allow cell towers is like a gateway drug, hooking the park to an unending electronic mainline. This will only help visitors avoid Yellowstone’s natural wonders by keeping their noses buried in ever-present and ever more engrossing devices.

CenturyLink wants to use the fiber optic cables to provide 4G LTE (Fourth Generation Long-Term Evolution) service to Yellowstone.

This would allow visitors to more easily download movies and use other bandwidth intensive Internet applications while in the park.

AT&T is also working to gain approval for a COLT (cell on a light truck) that would be placed near the Old Faithful Area.

A COLT can provide up to three days of wireless service wherever its parked. The COLT is usually used to provide emergency service during hurricanes, floods, and wildfires.

Verizon's Cell On a Light Truck (COLT)
Verizon’s Cell On a Light Truck (COLT)

They’re even parked outside baseball stadiums to flood the park with LTE capacity so people can surf the Internet during the game.

Criticism of the Plan

Yellowstone’s Wireless Plan, adopted back in 2009, said that,

Wireless communications in Yellowstone will be allowed in very limited areas to provide for visitor safety and to enhance park operations.

Some see the addition of fiber optic cables and COLTs as unnecessary for park operation and basic visitor safety.

Ruch said,

4G has nothing to do with park operations or visitor safety. The vast majority of the park’s 911 calls today are misdails. Its Wireless plan was premised on the fanciful notion that Yellowstone would keep the lid on this cyber-Pandora’s box just slightly ajar. Clearly, these companies want their subscribers to be able to stream movies and download the latest music even in the world’s most famous natural areas.

Ruch argues that the installation of fiber optic lines goes against the ad campaign that the US Forest Service currently runs, which urges visitors to unplug and “Reconnect with Nature.”

CenturyLink has yet to formally apply for permission to install the lines. But now that PEER has found out what’s up, you can bet that you’ll hear more about it soon.

What do you think about the addition of fiber optic cables and 4G LTE service to Yellowstone? Are you for or against it?

Resources

See the specific plans on the PEER website
Read more about the debate at the DailyMail

Source: Yahoo and PEER




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