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Private telco Ncell plans to expand 4G broadband at Everest base camp. If everything goes as planned, the operator could begin the high-speed network in the area by Q4 this year, at an altitude of 5,200 meters.
The company plans to set up base stations at five locations at the Everest base camp (EBC). Ncell has partnered with telecom gear manufacturer ZTE for this 4G expansion project. Those base stations will operate mainly in 900 MHz frequency. But it says additional bands will be made available “to ensure delivery of quality and seamless voice and data service. “Those areas could be Somare Pari Hill, Thukla Hill, Thame, Dingboche, and Pyramid Hill. Likewise, these cell towers will be operating a 4G network at an altitude between 3,830 – 5,204 meters from sea level. This is the highest altitude for any mobile service tower to exist in the world.
But it won’t be the first time Ncell operates 4G around the area. The telco has been providing 4G services in North and West areas in Namche and in Everest View Hotel before. It has also carried out preventive network operation and maintenance at EBC at 5,363 meters altitude.
The latest plan is to add more coverage at the base camp but with those base stations. Ncell says, more base stations at the base camp mean “significant improvements in network coverage, ensuring access to high-speed data to locals and tourists/climbers visiting the area.”
Ncell says it has been working on this project for 3 years and should be complete by Q4 of this year 2022. Being a mountaineous and uneven terrain, Ncell says it is not economical nor practical to cover the entire routes. But Ncell states that they will will continue to enhance coverage via optimization and possible coverage enhancement projects ahead.
Ncell’s Everest Base Camp project comes on the back of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report on BTS sites for Everest Base Camp Trekking Route. The Ministry of Forests and Environment had started inviting the candidates to submit their feedback on March 14.
Likewise, Ncell wants to establish the 4G connectivity with the utmost consideration for its environmental impact in check. The EIA reports help the telco take necessary steps to minimize any possible eco harm on the broadband project in the area.
Ncell says 4G network can be received even at an altitude of 8,848.86 meters, the height of Mt. Everest itself. But only the test will determine the final outcome.
When the 4G project at the base camp completes, the locals and the tourists will have high-speed broadband available on their devices. The connectivity will have several benefits.
The high-speed broadband of 4G will open up many possibilities for services including tourism. People will have access to advanced mobile networks in remote areas of the Everest region. They will benefit from everything a high-speed network brings.
Tourists will be able to share the excitement of their adventures and share their experiences with their loved ones. it will also help bring “innovative experiences for consumers, providing value creation for suppliers of the tourism sector, and creating sustainable competencies for smart tourism,” Ncell adds.
The EIA report says the 4G broadband at Everest base camp will help run disaster risk management during calamities around the vicinity.
Ang Tshering Sherpa, former president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association shared his delight at the latest Ncell project. In the past, climbers and trekkers carried satellite phones for communication but they were expensive and also needed permits.”
But Nepal alone is not at the broadband effort in the area. Chinese telco China Mobile has already tested 5G on its Northern side of the base camp.
Ncell will establish its dedicated 4G infrastructure at Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality Ward Nos 4 and 5 of Solukhumbu district. The project should bring 753.55 square meters of the Sagarmatha National Park within the broadband connection.
The project comprises the telco setting up five 4G base stations at 7 meters high in Thame, Somare Pari Hill, Dingboche, Thukla Hill, and Pyramid Hill.
Likewise, the EIA draft states that the proposed 4G project will allow 27,495 users to connect to high-speed broadband per hour. Each tower will serve 5,499 users per hour. These towers will operate round the clock and 4 of the 5 towers will be powered by solar.
As for the running capacity, each base station will be powered by a 1,000 Ampere-hour battery. The project will set up 33 solar panels at each site to fulfill the power demands for 4G towers.
Ncell also revealed to us that it plans to build a network at Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) if it receives approval. Hinting at the immediate start of the project, the telco is optimistic that it will establish 4G at the ABC by the end of this year.
Ncell, the private telco giant boasts over 6.1 million users on 4G broadband and over 2 million on 3G services. The company has expanded its services across 77 districts and it is currently pursuing 5G trials. For this, it has written a letter to the telecom authority NTA seeking approval for 5G trials.
Do you think the telcos should make haste for the expansion of 4G expansion in more trekking regions, or are they carrying it aptly? You can share your perspective in the comments below.