The Swedish company Teliasonera is investing over US$100M to expand 3G cell phone coverage throughout Nepal including the Khumbu region which is the gateway to Mt. Everest. The Nepali subsidiary is Ncell.
The most recent enhancement is a station at 17,000′ near Gorak Shep which is the last village a few hours walk from Everest Base Camp (17,500′). There are nine stations in the Khumbu starting at Lukla.
This is not totally new; cell phone coverage has been available the past few years via Nepal Telecom. Many Sherpas have used the service to stay in touch with family while leading treks or climbs but the service did not provide the high-speed 3G data services.
The big news however, is that the support for data via computers is dramatically less expensive. Ncell is offering an amazing cost of 1 Nepali rupee per megabyte of data via their Connect card in a PC, Laptop or Mac computer. That is about one US penny, yes $0.01/MB. Compared to AT&T’s metered data plan for iPhone at $0.07 per MB, this is a bargain!