Somewhere in these backpacks atop Mt. Everest is a smartphone that now has internet access. Somewhere in these backpacks atop Mt. Everest is a smartphone that now has internet access. Somewhere in these backpacks is a smartphone that now has internet access. (Photo: Vixit / Shutterstock)

Forget Starbucks! Free Wi-Fi coming to Mount Everest

At more than 17,000 feet, it will likely be the world's highest free Wi-Fi.

Nowadays, going to the nearest coffee shop to get some work done seems so passé. Why is that? Because everywhere seems to have free Wi-Fi – whether it's the local library, a food court or even Mount Everest.

Yep, the Nepal Telecommunications Authority announced this week that you'll soon be able to Snapchat and Instagram from the world's tallest mountain. All at no cost to tourists and mountain climbers.

Sure, the free Wi-Fi will certainly make it easier to tweet from the mountain. But, just as important, the internet access at Everest will also come in handy on rescue missions. Special fiber-optic cables – resistant to extremely cold weather and icefall – will be used for the new service.

Joshua Strahl in Iceland this summer. Joshua Strahl in Iceland this past summer. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

Joshua Strahl, an extreme athlete from Israel, will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro next week. He doesn't think many will be drawn to Everest because of the Wi-Fi. "You'll be seeing more communication from there, but most folks will view it as a novelty," he told From The Grapevine.

Everest is just the latest in a string of unexpected places to get free Wi-Fi. The Oak Grove Cemetery in Paducah, Kentucky, installed internet access so visitors could more easily research their genealogy while visiting tombstones. Two Russian explorers installed a Wi-Fi hotspot in a very cold place – the North Pole. And a park in Israel attached Wi-Fi routers to donkeys so guests riding the animals would also be able to post status updates on Facebook.

Strahl – who has traipsed through volcanoes in Iceland, ran marathons in Hawaii and wants to spend three months hiking the Appalachian Trail – had one more thing to add. It was about free Wi-Fi in coffee shops. Starbucks is not his first choice, he told us while packing for his upcoming trip. "Come to Israel and enjoy truly great coffee!"

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Forget Starbucks! Free Wi-Fi coming to Mount Everest
The tallest mountain in the world will now offer free Wi-Fi service at altitudes up to 17,000 feet.