Koryolink is North Korea’s only 3G cellular network and is operated by CHEO Technology, a joint venture in which Orascom holds 75 percent and the state run Korea Posts and Telecommunications Co. holds the remainder.
I covered the headline figures in this article at PC World: Koryolink Logs Big Jump in North Korean Cell Phone Users.
Here, I’d like to look a little bit more closely at the numbers.
Quarterly revenue hit a record during the third quarter, which is the July to September period. Orascom reported revenues of over US$18 million, which is a 30 percent jump on revenue in the second quarter. It was the fourth straight quarter of revenue growth.
While revenues continue to rise, the same can’t be said for EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), which fell to US$7.4 million. EBITDA has bounced around the range for three of the last five quarters.
It’s important to remember that EBITDA isn’t the same as profits. Orascom doesn’t announce net earnings figures for Koryolink, so it’s impossible to know if the company is actually making money.
This graph tells you a lot about the growth in popularity of cell phones in North Korea. The rise in subscriptions had been fairly steady until the second quarter of this year, when things began to take off.
Third-quarter growth, which saw Koryolink add 60 percent more users, has pushed total subscriptions to 301,199 lines.
Subscriber growth was so strong in the third quarter that the company added almost twice as many as it did in the preceding quarter.
Koryolink managed to add a lot of new subscribers because it continues to build out the network. When service began in late 2008 it covered just Pyongyang. Now Koryolink has service to 75 percent of the population and plans to expand further in the current quarter.
During the last quarter, network coverage was extended to cover one additional main city and 42 smaller cities to reach a total of 12 main cities – in addition to Pyongyang, 42 small cities, as well as 22 highways & railways. koryolink plans to pursue its aggressive network expansion plan through covering 59 smaller cities by the end of this year which would raise the percentage of the population covered to approximately 91%.
If you want to see the full financial report for yourself, click on to Orascom Telecom’s website.