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China Tests Mt. Everest Cell Station

November 14, 2007

BEIJING (AP) - China's largest cell phone service provider 
successfully tested a transmission station on Mount Everest on 
Tuesday, making it possible for people in the area for next year's 
Olympic torch relay to make calls, a state news agency reported.

China Mobile had to hire yaks and porters to transport equipment up 
to the station at an altitude of 21,325 feet, the Xinhua News Agency 
said.

Aside from the physical challenge of climbing the mountain, which 
straddles the border of Nepal and Chinese-controlled Tibet, the torch 
had to be designed to burn in bad weather, low pressure and high 
altitude.

The new station and two other high-altitude China Mobile stations, 
one at 17,060 feet and the other at 19,095 feet, are to provide cell 
phone service along the entire Mount Everest climbing route, Xinhua 
said. It was not known whether the two other stations operate on a 
continuous basis.

Immediately after testing it, workers began packing away the station 
for the winter, Xinhua said. It will be reassembled for the Olympic 
torch relay next summer, when the flame is to be carried to Everest's 
29,035-foot summit.

A worker at the station called China Mobile general manager Wang 
Jianzhou Tuesday afternoon and had a clear signal, Xinhua quoted an 
unnamed company spokesman as saying.

The construction was "incredibly difficult" because the oxygen level 
was only 38 percent of what it is at sea level, the spokesman said.

An official with Tibet Mobile, the Tibetan subsidiary of China 
Mobile, said the station would operate based on the needs of 
mountaineers and scientists, Xinhua reported.

Phones rang unanswered at China Mobile's headquarters in Beijing on 
Tuesday evening. The Lhasa office of China Mobile did not have a 
listed telephone number.

Organizers of the Beijing Games plan to stage the longest torch relay 
in Olympic history on an 85,000-mile, 130-day route across five 
continents.

While Beijing hopes the feat will impress the world, groups critical 
of China's often harsh 57-year rule over Tibet have decried the torch 
route as a stunt meant to lend legitimacy to Chinese control.
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