3G network brings internet to Mount Everest climbers

Climber in the BBC series Everest ER (file photo, Indus Films) Everest climbers can now get weather and safety advice through a 3G mobile network

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Mount Everest climbers can now surf the internet and make video calls through a 3G network, Nepalese telecoms firm Ncell says.

The company has installed eight 3G base stations along the route to Everest base camp.

The wireless network could help thousands of tourists who visit Mount Everest every year, Ncell claims.

Climbers and trekkers in the Everest region have so far relied on satellite phones and a voice-only mobile network.

Ncell, which is owned by the Swedish company TeliaSonera, says its highest 3G base station is near Everest base camp at 5,200 metres (17,000 ft).

The coverage would reach the summit of the world's highest mountain, company head Pasi Koistinen, said.

He added that this had not been tested yet.

The 3G network will help climbers and trekkers stay in touch with their families and trip organisers, Mr Koistinen said.

It will also enable them to receive weather reports and safety information while they are climbing.

Around 3,000 people have climbed to the Everest summit since Edmund Hillary first conquered the peak in 1953 and used runners to carry messages from his expedition to the nearest telegraph office.

Less than one third of Nepal's population have access to telecommunication services.

TeliaSonera announced that it would invest more than $100m (£63m) in the next year to increase mobile coverage in the country.

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