If you thought you could escape the internet and get a digital detox by climbing or hiking in Nepal, think again. Mount Everest now has Wi-Fi. Everest Link is the company responsible for linking Everest to the rest of the world via the internet. It provides more than 200 Wi-Fi hotspots in more than 40 villages. The company connects 34,000 locals and more than 40,000 tourists each year.
Tsering G. Sherpa, CEO of Everest Link, said in a blog post that his only means of communicating in Nepal before the year 2000 was the written letter, sometimes delivered by helicopter. That year, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. He had to carry and then fly her to the nearest city and then to India for treatment. His sisters lived in Nepal, and they had to shut down their business to join their mother in India. While caring for their mother, they lost a year’s worth of business because of inadequate communication.
He took this difficult experience as a call to action and started a network in Nepal with 128 kilobits per second of bandwidth. The goal was to connect remote villages that lacked communication. It was a difficult set-up, as everything had to be carried in by people or pack animals to set up the network. Technicians had to learn wilderness survival skills as they were working in such remote areas for days at a time.
The Wi-Fi is now connected to the Everest base camp, though it is yet to be connected atop the mountain, it would appear it’s only a matter of time.