Nepal firm to expand mobile coverage to Everest

KATHMANDU Thu Apr 23, 2009 9:15am EDT

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KATHMANDU (Reuters) - A Nepali telecom firm plans to expand its mobile phone services to the top of Mount Everest, benefitting climbers on the world's highest mountain, a company official said on Thursday.

Hundreds of climbers, who go to the 8,850 meter (29,035 feet) Mount Everest every year, depend on expensive satellite phones to speak with their families as the remote Himalayan region does not have communication facilities.

"We are going to set up mobile towers in Thakdin, Manjo, Pheriche and Gorak Shep, which will bring the summit of Mount Everest within the network coverage," Anoop Ranjan Bhattarai, director of the satellite service wing of Nepal Telecom, said.

Gorak Shep, in the Solukhumbhu region, is located near the base camp of Mount Everest. "A mobile tower at Gorak Shep will provide connectivity to climbers at the top," Bhattarai said, adding the firm hoped to finish the work by mid-June.

Annual monsoon rains normally start in mid-June after which transportation of equipment along the hilly trails becomes difficult.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Bappa Majumdar and Sanjeev Miglani)

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