Saturday, 11 February 2017

Free WiFi for Mount Everest area next month

KATHMANDU: Mount Everest and Annapurna areas will have free WiFi service from next month facilitating better connectivity for mountaineers from the highest point on earth.

Digambar Jha, chairman of state-run Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), said the NTA plans to set up free WiFi zones along Lukla-Everest Base Camp and Annapurna areas.

This will make availability of free WiFi service in by far the highest point as Everest base camp is located 5,360 metres from the sea level and the signals will be available even in higher altitude possibly as high as the Everest peak.

After setting up the WiFi in Everest and Annapurna regions, the NTA plans to expand other areas of Himalayan regions as well, Jha said.

"This will make communication easier for mountaineering and it will also help in rescue efforts in case of natural calamity and other disasters in these areas," he said.

So far mountaineers are using expensive satellite phones for communication during their ascend to the Mount Everest peak.

Now WiFi signals may be available close to the Everest peak if not exactly at the peak, NTA official said.

WiFi service will operate on the "Okumura Model", which uses low-cost optical fiber cables for high-speed Internet, Jha said adding special optical fibers resistant to extremely cold weather and icefall will be used for the service .

Although state-owned Nepal Telecom has extended telephone service to close to the base camp but services are poor and expensive, a hotelier in Namche Bazar, close to the Everest base camps, said.

Nigmi Chhiri said affordable and easily accessible communication is a must to boost tourism and free WiFi will definitely help not only tourism but also make life here easier. -- Bernama

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