The government plans to build a mobile phone base station on Yushan (玉山), the National Communications Commission said yesterday, adding that supplying power to it remains a major obstacle.
Yushan is the highest mountain in northeast Asia, with the main peak standing 3,925m above sea level. The base station is scheduled to be completed around June next year. Once built, it would be the highest in northeast Asia.
The commission’s department in central Taiwan is scheduled to convene today to be updated about the construction progress.
So far, only signal boosters have been installed on Yushan to maintain mobile communications, but reception quality remains poor.
Yushan is a popular travel destination for domestic and international tourists, but many accidents involving mountain climbers are reported there each year, department director Huang Chung-chi (黃琮棋) said.
There are many places on Yushan where people cannot receive mobile phone signals, Huang added.
The base station can facilitate rescue operations for mountain climbers who are reported missing or are in need of emergency medical assistance, he said.
“The station can improve reception close to the main peak, including Paiyun Lodge (排雲山莊) and the north peak,” Huang said.
Paiyun Lodge is the only accommodation available for hikers before they reach the main peak.
The base station is to be built near the Central Weather Bureau’s observation station, which is 3,850m above sea level, Huang said, adding that the cost of construction would be shared by Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone Telecommunications.
Meanwhile, the station would have to be powered by solar energy due to the lack of a regular power supply, he said.
However, the companies have yet to find a contractor to install solar panels, Huang said, adding that the auction has been canceled three times.
“They [contractors] would probably have a difficult time finding workers to transport materials to the site, as the cost would be high,” he said. “There might not even be people interested in doing the job, either.”
The estimated cost of building the base station is more than NT$50 million (US$1.68 million), about five times higher than on lower mountains, Huang said.
The base station would be constructed using the 3G network, he added.
“Our main goal is to improve reception for voice communication in the mountains, because it would be used to save lives,” he said.
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