Not having internet connectivity is the epitome of first-world problems and I'm sure there's someone, somewhere that expects to have Netflix on demand in as remote and dangerous a place as the heights of Mt Everest. Well, thanks to Everest Link CEO Tsering G Sherpa, you can now catch the latest episode of Game of Thrones while making your way to the Hillary Step.
In an announcement via Cambium Networks (requires registration), which assisted Sherpa with establishing the connection, the Nepal native explains the long journey of getting wireless connectivity onto the world's tallest mountain.
It's a story that goes as far back as 2000:
In 2000, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. To get her treatment from a good medical facility, I had to fly her down to the nearest city and then down to India. My sisters were living their normal lives in Nepal, but once news of our mother's illness reached them, they left everything back home – even closed their business – to join her in India. They didn’t know what else to do with such limited opportunities for communication.
Sadly, Sherpa's mother lost her battle with cancer. However, her death acted as a catalyst for the CEO:
At that moment, what I thought was, "Okay... my sister sustained a loss to help our mother — honestly a year’s loss of business — because of inadequate communication. Not everyone can afford that ... So back in 2000, with a single reset and 128 kbps as a bandwidth, we started our network in Nepal.
Political unrest unfortunately put a stop to Sherpa's activities and forced a "hiatus for eight years due to threats from extremists".
It wasn't until 2014 that the opportunity presented itself to try again, which resulted in getting 802.11b and eventually 802.11g up and running.
With connectivity among villages sorted, it was time to go higher:
The PTP 650 wireless backhaul provides us high throughput and perfect reliability for our network infrastructure. Today, we’ve connected over 200 hotspots in more than 40 villages. We connect 34,000 locals and over 40,000 tourists annually, which is a new record for tourism ... With the PTP 650 we have a solid link all the time. At the moment, we’re connected to the Everest base camp. There, at 5,320 metres altitude we have a solar powered cnPilot E500 outdoor Wi-Fi hotspot.
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