Nepal Telecom has some lofty plans for its cellphone service. The company is expanding its network coverage to one of the most special spots on Earth: the top of Mount Qomolangma…aka Mount Everest.
Climbing to Everest’s peak is an unquestionable achievement, but those who do so and wish to have a little chat with their loved ones back home from the very tip top of the world currently have to use satellite phones.
Those hundreds of climbers must represent a promising market, ripe for the pickings of local cellphone network operators. Which is probably why Anoop Ranjan Bhattarai, director of the satellite service wing of Nepal Telecom announced the company will be setting up new cellphone towers in Thakdin, Manjo, Pheriche and Gorak Shep in Nepal. This last is the key site: it’s near the base camp used for Everest ascent attempts, and will extend coverage up to the peak.
It’s a tribute to the triumph of mobile phone technology that this is about to happen–by June this year, to beat difficult monsoon conditions. But it’s also a little sad that the ubiquitous but essentially banal chatting technology has spread to every corner of the globe, and is going to be “polluting” one of the most uniquely remote spots left on the entire planet. At least there’s a significant upside: good cellphone coverage may help save a life or two among the inevitable climbing accidents that happen on the mountain every year.
Photo, Kerem Barut.