Tuesday, November 2, 2010

3G on Mount Everest

You would think it would be the most challenging environment on the planet, and it is. But the highest peak in the world now has 3G cellular service. The new coverage is supplied by the major wireless supplier in Nepal, Ncell, with 8 cell sites up to at least 17,000 feet in altitude. I used the Ncell network last year and I was surprised at the coverage available and how roamer-friendly the network was.

Cellular is indeed universal and there are thousands of 'off the beaten path' locations with surprisingly good cellular service. This brings to mind the coverage surprises we have found over the years. Often we give credit to Commnet Wireless for serving the less-populated places in the US and even Sprint has popped up where we didn't expect it (I still swear some of those locations have service because a Sprint executive has a house or vacation home in the area). Now we can roam a lot farther from home.

We also give Ncell credit for serving Mt. Everest with 3G. With hundreds of people sending "Guess where I am?" pictures from the Top of the World, there's plenty of market to be served. Making this announcement at the end of the climbing season makes us wonder, what will the network be used for in the next 6 months? Hopefully, the yak-herders will get an off-peak rate so they can keep track of their favorite soccer teams...live.

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