Mount Everest Explorers: “Can You Hear Me Now?”

If the ubiquitous Britney Spears “Gimme More” ringtones have you tearing your hair out and wanting to escape to the welcome solitude of a lonely mountain top, you may soon be out of luck.

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China Mobile, Asia’s largest mobile phone company, has successfully tested a mobile phone base on Mount Everest. If all goes well, the Olympic torch runners in the fore run to the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be able to keep in touch with their loved ones by cell phone on their way up the summit. Great for the ever increasing reach of cellular connectivity and all that, but one less spot on earth that’s unsullied by the cell phone.

This isn’t the first mobile station en route to the peak. China Mobile has two other mobile stations, but both provide limited connectivity. This new station promises connectivity till right at the top, and is slated to begin functioning in May when the torch relay is expected to take place.

China is pulling out all the stops to boost tourism in time for the Olympics. The mobile station is just one more measure in a line of steps taken to boost infrastructure. A road link to Lhasa and a base road to the Everest base camp were the first in a continuing program of infrastructure development.

Beijing is clearly leaving no peak uncovered in its efforts to turn its forbidding image into a tourist-friendly one, but at what cost?

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