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The World’s Highest and Fastest Cell Service Could Have Geopolitical Implications

Given China’s politics in the Himalayas, there are reasons to be suspicious of 5G on Mount Everest.

While most of China was quarantined and Mount Everest was closed to climbers due to COVID-19, a herd of nearly 50 yaks made their way up the snowy north slopes of the world’s highest mountain in temperatures that dipped below zero degrees Fahrenheit. On their backs were loads of equipment—metal beams, cables, and solar panels strapped down with cord—that would be used to build 5G antennas on rocky moraines scattered across the mountainside.

Chinese tech giant Huawei and state-owned network provider China Mobile teamed up for this project to bring the latest in wireless data to Everest, which previously had very little cell coverage above base camp. Now, data speeds in the “death zone” on Everest, where the altitude is too high and the air is too thin to support life, are faster than in most American neighborhoods.