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If there’s no Wi-Fi hotspot at your favourite pitch and you need to wander around the campsite just to get a strong enough 3G signal to check the email on your smartphone, you probably won’t take much solace from the fact that there isn’t the same problem at the summit of Mount Everest.

Ncell, a Nepalese subsidiary of Swedish telecommunications company TeliaSonera, has just installed a 3G mobile phone base station near a village in the Everest region, some 17,000 feet (5.2km) above sea level.

Coverage extends to the peak of the world’s tallest mountain, which means climbers will now be able to update their Facebook status once they’ve reached the top.

Until now, communication with the wider world on the ascent of Mount Everest was only possible via radio, satellite phone and a spotty voice-only mobile phone network on the Chinese side of the mountain.

This new solar-powered 3G base station, on the other hand, is fast enough for internet access and video calls — although data roaming costs may limit the time climbers want to spend playing Farmville.

Lars Nyberg, chief executive of TeliaSonera, said: “This is a great milestone for mobile communications, as the 3G high-speed internet will bring faster, more affordable telecommunication services from the world’s tallest mountain.”

Certainly something to think about when you can’t get a 3G signal sitting in a cafe in the middle of town…

[via Yahoo! News]