Internet Access Reaches New Heights on Everest

High-speed Internet access now extends to the 17,000-ft. base camp at Mount Everest in Nepal. CBS/AP

How's this for a Facebook status update: "About to start scaling Mount Everest."

Should they have time to check e-mails, climbers attempting to scale the world's highest peak now have access to high-speed Internet near its 17,000-foot base camp, the last gathering point on the journey to the top.

Ncell, a subsidiary of Swedish telecom company TeliaSonera, announced Friday that they have set up seven 3G base stations in the Everest region, allowing climbers and trekkers to access wireless Internet and make video calls, for example over Skype.

Thousands of trekkers from all over the world walk to the base camp every year. Hundreds of mountaineers go further up the slopes of the peak to the 29,035-foot summit.

In the past, they were forced to carry heavy satellite equipment to the base camp to transmit information and images. Trekkers and villagers were able to talk on cell phones at lower levels, but could not access the Internet.

NCell official Pasi Kostinen said they hope to soon expand the service in the region, where a few thousand people live and 30,000 visit each year.

NCell is a private company based in Nepal. The majority of its shares are controlled by foreign investors, with TeliaSonera having the largest stake.
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