Chinese website China Daily has revealed more details about how the country’s leading mobile network operator – China Mobile – managed to install 5G at the very top of Everest, having previously installed base stations at camps lower down the mountain last month.
In April we reported that China Mobile and Huawei had installed 5G at an altitude of 5,145 metres, at Everest’s ‘base’ and ‘intermediate’ camps. Engineers from the 12-strong installation crew put the Huawei base stations in place, with more than 150 China Mobile employees taking part in the construction and maintenance of the new 5G base stations.
Part of a broader push
The project is the next part in China Mobile's broader push to accelerate 5G rollout across China, having committed to building 300,000 5G base stations this year. According to the China Daily report:
“A line of 46 yaks laden with telecom equipment in mid-April made its way toward the 6,500-meter-high Forward Camp on Mount Qomolangma, known as Mount Everest in the West. Accompanying the special transport team were more than 40 employees from China Mobile and its partners, who were burdened with heavy optical cables and struggling to inch higher amid bone-chilling -20 C temperatures.”
But there is a practical reason for getting 5G to operate at the top of the world, with the base stations – provided by Huawei – enabling scientific research and environmental monitoring of the peak. But altitude has thrown up a number of problems for the installation team, from the lack of oxygen, to the extreme temperatures.
"Do you know how cold -20 C is?” said Chen Gang, an employee from China Mobile's Tibet autonomous region branch. “Even machines cannot bear such cold. The computers cannot be turned on. When sleeping in tents, we lay our arms across our computers all night so that they can work next morning.”
The final stage of the Everest 5G installation took 40 people to carry a three-kilometer-long optical cable, weighing 700 kilograms (with the whole project requiring 25 km of cable). And Li Chongming, an official with the networks department at the Tibet branch of China Mobile, described the project as “challenging, tough and risky”.
However, after months of work, the world's highest 5G base station is now operational, and at an altitude of 6,500 meters.