October 28, 2010

Mount Everest Goes High Tech

A private telecom firm took high-speed Internet facilities to new heights on Thursday after launching Nepal's first 3G services at the base camp of Mount Everest.

The installation will help tens of thousands of mountain climbers who visit the world's tallest peak.

The climbers have to depend on expensive satellite phones to remain in touch with their families as the remote region lacks proper communication.

Nepali telecom company Ncell said the new facility is the first 3G setup at the base camp of Mount Everest.

"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," Lars Nyberg, chief of Nordic telecoms firm TeliaSonera, which owns 80 percent of the firm, told Reuters.

Ncell is a joint venture between TeliaSonera and local investors.

"Today we made the (world's) highest video call from Mount Everest," Ncell chief Pasi Koistinen told reporters in Kathmandu, referring to the call made from 17,388 feet, the area from where climbers begin the actual climb to Mount Everest.

The company said in a statement that the new location will provide climbers with the ability to surf the web, send video clips and emails, as well as call friends and family back home at cheaper rates than average satellite phones.

Only a third of the 28 million people in Nepal are covered by the telecommunication services.

Ncell said TeliaSonera would spend over $100 million to expand its facilities in Nepal next year and ensure over 90 percent of the nation's population will have mobile coverage.

Mount Everest stands at 29,035 feet above sea level, which is almost twice as high as the tallest U.S. mountain.


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