Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mount Everest now has a permanent 3G connection to the summit

Oct. 29, 2010 (9:30 am) By: Matthew Humphries

Climbing Mount Everest is a feat most of us will never achieve, but until now those that have reached the summit couldn’t phone and tell anyone. That is unless they invested in a lot of expensive equipment and took advantage of a satellite link.

From today that changes. Ncell, the Nepalese subsidiary of Swedish carrier TeliaSonera, has completed the installation of a high-altitude 3G base station at 5,200 meters. The good news for climbers is that the station will provide a signal even at the highest point of 8,848 meters.

With the introduction of 3G, communication on the famous mountain is now a lot easier. You can just take your standard smartphone with you and dial home when you reach the top. If no one believes you’ve made it then just make a video call instead and show them. More importantly, if you get into difficulties while climbing it’s a lot easier and more reliable to call for help.

Lars Nyberg, chief executive of TeliaSonera, heralded it as a milestone:

This is a great milestone for mobile communications as the 3G high speed internet will bring faster, more affordable telecommunication services from the world?s tallest mountain.

Read more at AFP and TeliaSonera

Matthew’s Opinion

Although the introduction of phone communication all the way up to the summit is a great achievement, it must take a bit of the magic out of making it up there. Imagine you are standing on the peak admiring the view and the sounds, only to have it interrupted by a ringtone in your pocket or from one of the other climbers.

Only 3,000 people have made it to the summit, though so I doubt that will happen too often. Ncell will be keen to encourage phones to be used while climbing just so as they can recoup the investment made. Constructing a base station that high must have been difficult for the crew working in such conditions. Getting the materials up there will have taken a while too.

Although the focus seems to have been on getting Mount Everest hooked up, Ncell has big plans to get all of Nepal sporting coverage. They even got seasoned mountain climber Veikka Gustafsson to tell everyone how important it is on camera.

What do you think??

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