With all the sniping and griping on social networks, it’s rare that somebody posts to say they are feeling on top of the world. But that’s exactly what climbers at Mount Everest will soon be able to do.
Ncell, a subsidiary of a Swedish phone company, has set up eight 3G phone masts (four powered by solar energy) around and on the mountain, the highest being at 17,000 feet near Gorak Shep, the last stop on the route up to Everest’s base camp. The company has made a video call from the base camp and believes the 3G signal will be accessible from Everest’s 29,029 feet summit, though that’s not yet been tested for real.
Though the coverage may sound like a gimmick, it will be useful for climbers who currently communicate through an unreliable satellite connection. Up to 50 people will be able to use the service at the same time, with a speed of up to 3.6MB a second. That speed could be doubled if there is sufficient demand.
The announcement may earn some criticism about priorities as currently less than a third of people in Nepal have access to any form of telecommunication. However, Ncell’s parent company TeliaSonera says it plans to extend its mobile coverage to cover more than 90 percent of the country’s population.
Appropriately enough, TeliaSonera also claims the lowest 3G station in the world, in a European mine 4,595 feet below sea level.