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3G access arrives on Everest. But do we need Internet on the top of the world?

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(Read caption) 3G service is now available even on Mt. Everest, seen here on the horizon. So to sum things up: You can get mobile Internet access on the highest mountain in the world, but not in the middle of New York City.

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As every mountaineer knows, there is nothing sweeter than heaving yourself up onto a far-flung peak, hunkering down in your tent, and watching an episode of "The Office" on your laptop computer, while the sharp winter winds blow outside. And now, courtesy of the Nepalese company Ncell, you'll be able to download new episodes – and dispatch emails to your family and friends – all the way up on Mt. Everest.

That's right, folks. This month, Ncell installed nine 3G stations in the Mt. Everest area, from the local all the way up to the village of Gorakshep, at 17,000 feet. All nine stations went online on Thursday. "The speed of the 3G services will be up to 3.6 MB per second," Aigars Benders, the chief technical officer of Ncell, told CNN. "But we could have it up to 7.2 MB if there is demand."

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Benders said it would be "theoretically possible" to access the network from the summit of Everest. So, to summarize: Mountaineers can now get mobile internet access at – or near – the very top of the world, while your humble Horizons blogger sometimes can't get mobile Internet access from the couch of his Brooklyn apartment. Go figure.

"Great, people yakking on their cellphone on the roof of the world," Kelly McParkland of the National Post wrote today. "That's one giant leap for the communications industry, one huge disaster for any sense of adventure. You think it's annoying listening to some Bozo yammer on his cell phone (or, worse, Bluetooth) in the coffee line-up, how about when you're waiting your turn at the highest spot in the world?"


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