North Korea’s Koryolink cellular network has hit the 2 million subscriber mark, majority owner Orascom Telecom said this week.
The landmark was reached in late May, 15 months after it surpassed the million subscriber mark.
Koryolink launched its 3G cellular service in the final days of December 2008 and in the last four years has expanded service to cover all major towns, highways and railways in North Korea.
“When we first acquired the license in North Korea, people thought the service will only be provided to a few privileged individuals,” said Naguib Sawiris, Executive Chairman of Orascom Telecom Media and Technology in a statement. “We are More >
Koryolink, North Korea’s sole 3G cellular service provider, is close to hitting the 2 million subscriber mark.
The news was disclosed this week by the Koryolink CEO Ezz Heikal in Pyongyang and later confirmed by the company’s head office in Cairo. It means that Koryolink will have roughly doubled its subscriber base in the last 15 months. Koryolink hit a million subscribers in early February 2012.
Only a few years ago it would have been unusual to see anyone in Pyongyang speaking on a cell phone, but that all began to change in December 2008 when Koryolink launched its service. It’s now available across Pyongyang, More >
Well, that didn’t last for long. Short-term tourists entering the DPRK can no longer get mobile Internet service, according to Koryo Tours.
“3G access is no longer available for tourists to the DPRK. Sim cards can still be purchased to make international calls but no internet access is available,” the Beijing-based North Korean tourism specialist said in a short notice on its website.
Foreigners visiting North Korea should be able to get mobile data service on their cellphones within the coming week, according to a report on Friday.
Koryolink, the country’s only 3G cellphone network, plans to allow visitors to buy mobile Internet when they arrive in the country, the AP said in a report from Pyongyang. The service will launch by March 1, it said.
North Koreans will still be banned from accessing the Internet.
The addition of mobile Internet comes several weeks after North Korea reversed a long-standing policy that banned visitors from bringing cellphones into the country. They were previously taken by customs officials More >
Over the weekend a series of stories from Pyongyang reported that visitors to North Korea can now buy SIM cards for the local Koryolink network so they can make international calls while in the country.
Thanks to an update from Young Pioneer Tours, which was the first to report on the new service, we now know how much those calls will cost.
Visitors have three options for purchasing a SIM card:
A 50 euro (US$67) card that is valid indefinitely and can be used on repeat visits. An unspecified amount of prepaid calling is included.
A two-week rental SIM card, which costs 50 euro More >
The North Korean government is now allowing tourists to keep hold of their cell phones when they enter the country and buy SIM cards on the local network, according to a report by China’s Xinhua news agency.
The report comes hours after Young Pioneer Tours said tourists on their most recent trip were able to take in cell phones.
Quoting an unnamed Egyptian technician with Koryolink, the Egyptian-Korean joint venture that operates North Korea’s sole 3G network, Xinhua reported that the policy changed on January 7 this year.
The technician said visitors should have to register their cell phone when they enter the country More >
Young Pioneer Tours, one of the handful of agencies taking tourists into North Korea, reports that a group just returned from the country were permitted by customs officials to take their cell phones into the country.
The news is intriguing because North Korea has long taken phones from visitors as they cross the border. The phones were kept in small pouches and returned to visitors as they were leaving the country.
Indeed, just a couple of weeks earlier, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and his party left their cell phones in Beijing before traveling to Pyongyang because they assumed they would be taken More >
North Koreans have not been banned from using mobile phones during a mourning period for Kim Jong Il despite a press report to the contrary, according to the majority owner of North Korea’s nationwide cellular network.
The U.K.’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on January 26th that the North Korean government had warned citizens they would be “branded as ‘war criminals’ and punished accordingly” if caught attempting to defect or use mobile phones during a 100-day period of national mourning.
Koryolink, North Korea’s only commercial 3G cell phone network, has signed up its millionth subscriber. The landmark was reached just over three years since service was launched.
Koryolink has been adding more than 100,000 new subscribers for each of the last five quarters and was expected to hit the million mark in early 2012.
The company is operated by Cheo Technology, which is a joint venture between Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media And Technology Holding (OTMT) and North Korea’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. OTMT holds a 75 percent stake and the North Korean government owns the remaining 25 percent.