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China Mobile tests Mt. Everest cellphone service

Posted: 20 Nov 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:cellphone station? Mt. Everest? China Mobile?

China Mobile Communications Corp. reported that it has successfully tested a cellphone station at an elevation of 21,315ft on Mount Everest. When the Olympic torch reaches the top of Mount Everest en route to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the athlete carrying the flame will be able to chat away on a cellphone.

"The conversation was clear," said a spokesman for China Mobile, China's largest cellphone service provider. The brief conversation was placed by a worker at the cellphone station's elevation of 21,315ft, according to the China Daily news service.

The company hired porters and yaks to carry the station equipment up the mountain. "The station's construction was incredibly difficult as the oxygen level at the site was only 38 percent of that at ground level," one worker said.

The station equipment was immediately packed away for the winter, although the station will be reassembled in time for the Olympics. An athlete is scheduled to carry the Olympic torch to the 29,035ft summit on the highest stretch of an 85,000-mile five-continent route that is scheduled to take 130 days. It will be the longest torch relay in Olympic history.

Additional cell stations have been assembled at elevations of 17,060ft and 19,095ft along the traditional climbing route to the mountain's summit.

After the Olympics, the stations are expected to remain in place, providing service for climbers and scientific surveys.

Previous calls placed from the highest elevations on the mountain were made by satellite phones.

- W. David Gardner

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