Internet access on the Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal?
February 15, 2013 4:22 PM   Subscribe

Handling bidness at high altitude.

I am a small business owner and I want to do the trek from Jiri to Everest Base Camp to leave in a month. When I spent a summer in Italy, I was able to get a card for my computer that allowed internet access if I plugged it in -- I think to the USB port. Being away from my business for a month is going to be difficult, but it would be easier if I had internet access in the evenings to monitor everything. (Yes, I know, in an ideal world I could take a month off of work, but it's not an ideal world.) My question is two-fold:

(1) Is there anyway to supply my own internet while trekking through the Khumbu valley? If so, is this something I would arrange in Kathmandu or ahead of time? Can I arrange for my iPhone 5 to have internet there such that I could turn on the hotspot? I tried to Google about this but I don't know what the little internet card is called.

(2) In terms of wifi, how often will the teahouses between Jiri and Everest Base Camp have wifi? Will it always cost to use it or can I find it complimentary if I stay there?

In either case, the cost is not too much of an issue, but what would it cost?

I have a MacBook Air, if it matters.

You (yes, you) are awesome. Thank you.
posted by letahl to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
You are thinking of an air card if that helps your search.
posted by cakebatter at 4:47 PM on February 15, 2013

If you have or can get an unlocked GSM phone that supports the 900 and 1800 bands, the answer appears to be that you can indeed get at least some wireless data in that area. It'll be the slow sort, but it's good enough for email unless you're sending large files back and forth.

Ncell offers prepaid voice and data plans, and has a working coverage map, although the map on their website differs somewhat from the map on GSMWorld.
posted by wierdo at 5:25 PM on February 15, 2013

I did this trek in March last year. My trekking companion was using his iPhone to stay in touch with family on Facebook, using a locally bought sim card, bought in Kathmandu. This is with a European iPhone. Many lodges offer internet access which gets progressively more expensive the further up the valley you go. They are using their smartphones as modems. In Gorak Shep, the last "village" before Base Camp, I paid 100 rupees per minute to check email. Service was not great, with frequent lost connections on iPhone and in lodges, so I don't think you should expect to get hours of work done each day. My friends iPhone was an older one, using the normal size sim card, not the micro sim.

Be prepared for everything in the valley to cost way more than in Kathmandu. Bottle of water in Kathmandu - 20 rupees, same bottle of water in Gorak Shep - 200 rupees.
posted by DelusionsofGrandeur at 1:17 AM on February 16, 2013

I did the trek in December. Acess was fine until we got to Namche but got more patchy as we went up. lots of places offer internet access but most of these close outside of the climbing season. It also gets a lot more expensive to use the internet and charge devices as you go up. I think every place after Namche is off the main grid and relies on solar power.
posted by drugstorefrog at 1:33 AM on February 16, 2013

To add to the above information, ATT offers international data starting at $30, and it's sold in MB, and lasts a month. Problems? (1) you get billed if your phone rings while you are using the hotspot ($2.50). (2) not sure where or if it will work between Jiri and Gorak Shep. Their coverage map (super vague) says no but reports say maybe/some.
posted by letahl at 9:16 AM on February 18, 2013

That's actually a great illustration of just how terrible US carriers are on data roaming charges. 120MB of data bought from at&t will cost you $30 a month, and they force you to keep the data plan for either 3 or 6 months (I forget, but it's longer than I've ever needed). For that amount of money you could buy 5GB of data from Ncell and still have some left over for the SIM card and unlock of your existing phone.
posted by wierdo at 1:50 PM on February 18, 2013

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