Climbers at the top of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, will now be able to make video calls and surf the Internet on their mobile phones, a Nepalese telecom group claims. Ncell, a subsidiary of Swedish phone giant TeliaSonera, says it has set up a high-speed third-generation (3G) phone base station at an altitude of 5,200 metres near Gorakshep village in the Everest region. Climbers who reached Everest’s 8,848-metre peak previously depended on expensive and erratic satellite phone coverage and a voice-only network set up by China Mobile in 2007 on the Chinese side of the mountain. The installation will also help tens of thousands of tourists and trekkers who visit the Everest region every year. The 3G services will be fast enough to make video calls and use the Internet, said the company, which also claims the world’s lowest 3G base at 1,400 metres below sea level in a mine in Europe. A total of eight base stations, four of which will run on solar power, have been installed in the Everest region with the lowest at 2,870 metres at Lukla, where the airport for the area is situated. Despite the installation in Everest, telecom services cover less than one-third of the 28 million people of Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world. TeliaSonera said it planned to invest USD 100m in the next year to ensure that mobile coverage increases to more than 90 percent of the Himalayan nation’s population.