With the optimal climbing season slipping by every day because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people heading to Everest is almost non-existent these days. Just a year ago, there was this news about “traffic-jam” on the world’s highest mountain. But it doesn’t look like history is repeating anytime soon. Anyway, the Everest isn’t done from making the headlines. That’s because a couple of Chinese telecom operators have successfully installed 5G base stations at the Everest Base Camp and other points in the vicinity.
3G, 4G, and now 5G in Mount Everest
Back in October 2010, China Mobile had already established a 3G connection thus facilitating video calls from the Base Camp of Everest. If you recall, a couple of months after this, a British climber tweeted from the peak of Mount Everest using a 3G network from Ncell. Just a few years later in 2013, the company turned on the first 4G tower in the Base Camp and demonstrated a live video stream in HD. And now, China Mobile has joined hands with Huawei to bring the latest generation of cellular connectivity to the top of the world.
Bringing 5G to Everest is no child’s play. Besides geographical constraints and the extremities of the weather itself, the Everest region also falls among the National Nature Reserve. This effectively forbids companies from operating heavy machinery or performing any sort of excavation around the area. While that definitely poses an obstacle for the project, it is a “necessary trouble” in order to preserve the sanctity of nature.
A total of 8 tons of technical and other materials were transported to the construction site. Among them, Huawei supplied the 5G Active Antenna Unit stations. And contrary to other company’s similar products, these are highly concentrated, small, and lightweight thus easing the entire installation process.
5G in full swing at Everest!
On 19th April 2020, China Mobile celebrated its 20th anniversary of independence after separating itself from the state-owned provider. And to mark this occasion, the company overhauled the 177km transmission line that connects the Base Camp to its main network. With a joint effort with Huawei, the world’s largest telecom operator (based on subscriber volume) inaugurated three 5G stations at the Everest Base Camp (5,300 meters) and Transition Camp (5,800 meters). This was only possible after the installation of five 5G NSA and SA antennas with a download speed of up to 1 gigabyte per second throughout the pre-determined points.
China Mobile’s transmission line currently powers three 5G base stations and three 4G base stations in the region. Moreover, the company will add two more 5G base stations at an even higher altitude by the end of this week (April 25). The network at Advanced Base Camp (6,500 meters) will then claim the record for the world’s highest installed 5G base stations. With this, the fellow mountaineers will be able to enjoy a stable 5G connection at the peak of Mount Everest!
It took a total of 150 human resources to complete the project. From this, a team of 12 engineers is currently at the Base Camp providing 24 x 7 support. This includes network maintenance and optimization personnel. Moving to the cost itself, the company hasn’t publicized any details. However, field experts assume somewhere around $140,000 per 5G base station.
Apart from China Mobile, a couple of other Chinese telcos have also joined the “5G in Everest” venture as well. China Telecom installed a 5G base station at the Everest Base Camp on 13th April at an altitude of 5,145.3 meters. The company confirmed uplink and downlink speeds of 700Mbps and 223Mbps respectively. China Unicom had also announced that it has built two 5G base stations for network coverage in the observation deck and No. 1 Base Camp. It is a state-owned telecom operator in China with a pretty large user-base.
A bigger implication?
5G is growing more than ever and companies throughout the world pushing themselves to beat others to the market. Huawei has further cemented its lead in the 5G race with the recent feat. The company has been met with hindrances like the trade ban from the US. Despite that, Huawei’s 5G infrastructure is still far ahead of the ones of other non-Chinese firms like Ericsson and Nokia.
The successful installation and operation of a 5G network in a location riddled with geographical and topographical complications is a testimonial to the technological superiority of Huawei & the Chinese telecommunication as a whole.