Cell phone towers have sprouted up in national parks across the country because the National Park Service lacks a coherent policy on cell coverage in park areas. As a result, the incessant chirp of the cell phone can be heard in the wild backcountry as well as at iconic places like Old Faithful.
Few parks have adopted a plan for cell towers or wireless communication.
Nonetheless, the Park Service is moving ahead with an industry-sponsored initiative which would change the way many visitors experience national parks. This plan would significantly expand cellular and internet “connectivity” inside parks, at not just visitor centers but along most roads and at major sites such as trailheads. The plan would also cede control and placement of facilities, as well as interpretive content about the park, to private concessionaires.
This stealth scheme to wire our national park system has advanced with little public involvement. It will mean more ugly cell towers marring park vistas and “spill-over” coverage in wilderness and backcountry. It is also a giant step to further “Disney-fy” our parks, replacing rangers with corporate icons as your guides.