North Korea’s Kangsong is operating a 4G network

The Kangsong 4G network is visible alongside South Korean networks on this phone network scan

North Korea’s first 4G cellular service, which reportedly launched late last year in Pyongyang, has spread as far as the country’s southern border and is operated by Kangsong, the state-owned carrier.

The 4G network, when available to users, will make possible new services and uses for the network due to the significantly faster data speeds supported by the technology. Currently, some applications such as video streaming are held back by the slow speed of 3G.

On Wednesday, signals from the 4G service were received during a trip to the Paju region of South Korea, near the inter-Korean border.

A scan of available cellular networks at the Odu-san Unification Observatory brought in signals from South Korea’s three main networks and a single signal from North Korea. The observatory sits on a 110-meter high hill overlooking the Imjingang River and several North Korean villages.

The 4G signal was identified with the code “46706,” which is the international mobile network code for Kangsong, the cellular carrier owned by North Korea’s Ministry of Information Industry.

The Kangsong 4G network is visible alongside South Korean networks on this phone network scan

Kangsong Net is one of two cellular networks in North Korea. Koryolink launched the country’s first 3G network in December 2008 and a rival 3G network, Kangsong, was launched in 2015.

The location where the signals were received has also brought reception of North Korea’s 3G networks in the past. The signals are weak and cannot be consistently received.

On Wednesday, no 3G signal was received although its absence is likely not indicative of the status of the 3G network. The vast majority of North Korean cellphone users are still believed to use 3G.

The 4G network is reportedly being built with second-hand equipment from China’s Huawei and has already started signing up customers in Pyongyang, according to Daily NK.


An affiliate of 38 North