There’ll no doubt be a Starbucks and Apple Store following in its wake, but mountaineers ascending the tricky slopes of Mount Everest can now update their Facebook status and send out a few Tweets as they ice axe their way to the summit.
Until now, burly beardy Chris Bonnington types had to lug around beefy satellite phones, but thanks to Nepali mobile network operator Ncell, there’s now a 3G base station at the bottom of Mount Everest.
Set up at an altitude of 5,200 meters, the base station serves up 3G services up to 3.6MB/sec, although this could be boosted to 7.2MB/sec if there is sufficient demand.
This means crampon wielding climbers can make use of a standard GSM, 3G-enabled network to LOL at Internet memes, send emails and make video calls.
“The coverage of the network will reach up to the peak of the Everest,” said Ncell Nepal chief Pasi Koistinen, whose company teamed up with private investors and Sweden-based telecom TeliaSonera to build the base station.
Ncell’s network currently covers less than a third of Nepal’s population, but with TeliaSonera set to invest 100 million dollars in the next year, coverage is expected to extend to more than 90 percent of the country’s population.
“This achievement is as mighty as the altitude as 3G high speed internet will bring faster, more affordable telecommunication services to the people living in the Khumbu Valley, trekkers, and climbers alike,” said TeliaSonera CEO, Lars Nyberg.