Ok, so this is a slightly weird one – Mount Everest now has 3G!
A private telecommunications company has announced 3G services are now available at the Mount Everest base-camp located at 17,388ft. To celebrate the establishment of the service the providers made the highest recorded video call.
Until now, climbers have had to depend on expensive satellite phones to remain in touch with their families and expedition officials. The new service will provide fast surfing on the web, the ability to send video clips and emails, as well as to make calls at far cheaper rates than the average satellite phone. It will be ideal for climbers updating blogs and online journals about their climb.
The services available to trekkers and climbers will be better than that enjoyed by many ordinary people in Nepal, a country which suffers from widespread poverty and for which trekking and tourism is a key source of foreign revenues. Currently only around a third of the population have access to modern telecommunications.
What is not yet clear is whether the service will reach the summit of Everest, situated at 29,029ft. The company claims the signal will reach that high, though it admitted that it has has not yet been tested. Climbers who have reached the top have previously depended on either satellite phones or a voice-only network set up by China Mobile in 2007 on the Chinese side of the mountain. So the big question is, will there be a rush now to have the record for the highest call by the next team up to the summit?
cleverly, four of the eight base stations are being operated using solar power. There are back-up batteries that can power them for around three days if the solar energy systems do not function for any reason. It’s estimated that the internet and phone services could be used by up to 50 people at a time. While hundreds of people have climbed the mountain, officials say there are several hundred people around the Base Camp area every year.
Climbers have welcomed the service which should provide additional safety for them in their quest.