ZTE deploys 3G stations at the world's highest point
With its mystical appearance and high altitude, Mt. Everest attracts tourists and climbers each year from all over the world. To ensure smooth communication for hikers on their way to Mt. Everest, Ncell teamed up with ZTE to build the first 3G network covering the hiking route to Mt. Everest. Ncell is a wholly owned subsidiary of European multinational, TeliaSonera, and is the second largest mobile operator in Nepal.
Naturally, the weather conditions on Mt. Everest are extreme. In January, the coldest month, temperature on the summit averages -36˚C but can drop as low as -60˚C. In July, the warmest month, the average temperature on the summit is --19˚C. Year round, the temperature on the summit does not rise above freezing. From November to February, the global southwest jet stream moves in from the north, beating the summit with hurricane winds that exceed 285km/h. Even during the pre- and post-monsoon climbing seasons, strong winds may arise suddenly. When such storms develop, sand and small stones are thrown into the air and beating snow poses problems for climbers.
Innovative and Customized Solution
To withstand the high altitude and harsh natural environment of the Himalayas, ZTE provided a tailor-made solution with a strong ‘green’ focus for the Mt. Everest project. The micro base stations are based on ZTE’s SDR platform, which has low power consumption, a small footprint, and is easy to install. A one-piece mast and insulated shelter are used for the stations, and this allows them to be installed quickly without the need for earthworks or foundation construction.
Solar panels are incorporated into the design to ensure that stations have power supply throughout the year and are environmentally friendly. These features allow each station to operate at optimal levels with minimal power usage even with outdoor temperatures as low as -30˚C to -40˚C.
Creating an Engineering Legacy
Deploying base stations on the world’s highest mountain presented big challenges to ZTE: a harsh environment for transportation and installation, and unbearably low temperatures.
Because the closest airport is thousands of kilometers from the base station site, equipment had to be delivered using donkeys and yaks. During the seven days and nights of transporting equipment, even the yaks were worn out. On site, ZTE engineers had to overcome altitude sickness and face shortages of water and construction materials. This would usually bring installation procedures to a complete standstill.
In extreme adversity, ZTE engineers made full use of local materials. An easy-to-install vertical ground tower was adopted and its foundation cage was filled with stones rather than construction blocks. Installation was completed without engineering civil work. A compact diet shelter with good heat preservation was used to ensure suitable operation environment for base stations.
“This was quite a challenging project. Our total turnkey solution is adaptable to limited resources in the field and also dramatically reduces construction time. So we were able to launch the stations one month earlier than would have been possible using a traditional solution,” said Luo Pingfan, president of ZTE South Asia.
More than 40 helicopters were used to transport equipment. Within two short months, ZTE successfully deployed eight 3G stations on Mt. Everest to provide quality voice and 3G broadband services for residents and mountaineers.
At the launch of the eight stations, Aigars Benders, CTO of Ncell, congratulated the teams involved via video, saying: “You are on the peak of the world. With the launch of the 3G station, visitors to the south side of Mt. Everest can share what they see, what they feel, and what they think during their trip to Mt. Everest.”