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North Korea - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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  • 80 Pages
  • April 2022
  • Region: North Korea
  • Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd
  • ID: 1844260

North Korea’s mobile services to fall under total state control following Koryolink’s demise

Egyptian mobile operator Orascom was the private sector partner with government-owned North Korea Post and Telecommunication Company (NKPTC) that set up the country’s 3G mobile network, Koryolink, in 2008 following the demise of the Sunnet GSM service that same year. Koryolink’s 25-year license gave it exclusive rights for the first four years along with a block on any foreign investors from entering the market for a further three years.

Orascom reportedly invested the hefty sum of $400 million to build infrastructure in Pyongyang and a few other major cities, however the high cost of handsets (designed and built in North Korea to allow the government to have full access to all of the communications going through the devices) meant that only the most wealthy (or privileged) could afford to subscribe. Mobile penetration, as a result, has only been able to reach 19%.

Nevertheless, Orascom was able to produce a reasonably healthy return from its venture - or at least it did so on paper. In 2012 (the last year of its monopoly period), Koryolink generated around $360 million in profit. Unfortunately for the majority shareholder, the North Korean government prevented Orascom from repatriating its share of the profit for the full value. Desperately in need of foreign exchange as international sanctions started to bite, the government demanded Orascom to repatriate profits at the unofficial (black market) exchange rate - roughly worth about one-hundredth of the actual amount.

The Orascom holding company in Egypt announced in November 2021 that it had, in effect, given up on North Korea and had written off its share of Koryolink in its stock market filing. Negotiations are continuing for Koryolink to become merged with one of the other state-owned mobile operators (Byol), but the final outcome inevitably involves all of North Korea’s mobile services moving under state control.

Table of Contents

Key statistics

Regional Asia market comparison

  • Market characteristics
  • Market Leaders
  • Market Challengers
  • Market Emergents
  • TMI vs GDP
  • Mobile and mobile broadband penetration
  • Fixed versus mobile broadband penetration

Country overview

Covid-19 and its impact on the telecom sector

  • Economic considerations and responses
  • Subscribers
  • Infrastructure

Telecommunications market

  • Historical overview

Regulatory environment

Mobile market

  • Mobile statistics
  • Mobile infrastructure
  • Major mobile operators
  • Mobile handsets

Digital economy

  • Korea Computing Centre (KCC)
  • Personal computer production
  • E-education
  • E-commerce and E-payments

Digital media

  • Broadcasting market
  • Social media

Fixed network market

  • Major network operators

Telecommunications infrastructure

  • National telecom network
  • International infrastructure

Appendix Historic data

Glossary of abbreviations

Related reports

List of Tables

Table 1 Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities North Korea 2022 (e)
Table 2 Development of North Korea's GDP 2012 2020
Table 3 Growth in the number of mobile subscribers and penetration 2012 2027
Table 4 Growth in the number of mobile broadband subscribers and penetration 2015 2027
Table 5 Historic - Koryolink revenue, EBITDA, CAPEX (US$ million) 2012 2015
Table 6 Historic - Koryolink ARPU 2012 2014
Table 7 Historic - Koryolink quarterly revenue, EBITDA, EBITDA margin, capex 2009 2011
Table 8 Historic - Koryolink quarterly subscribers, MoU and ARPU 2009 2014
Table 9 Historic Koryolink Fixed line subscribers 2000 2011

List of Charts

Chart 1 Asia Telecoms Maturity Index Market Leaders
Chart 2 Asia Telecoms Maturity Index Market Challengers
Chart 3 Asia Telecoms Maturity Index Market Emergents
Chart 4 Asia Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per capita
Chart 5 Asia Mobile subscriber penetration vs mobile broadband penetration
Chart 6 Northern Asia Mobile subscriber penetration vs mobile broadband penetration
Chart 7 Northern Asia Fixed and mobile broadband penetration
Chart 8 Development of North Korea's GDP 2012 2020
Chart 9 Growth in the number of mobile subscribers and penetration 2012 2027
Chart 10 Growth in the number of mobile broadband subscribers and penetration 2015 2027

List of Exhibits

Exhibit 1 Map of Telecom Maturity Index global ranking among countries in Asia
Exhibit 2 Generalised Market Characteristics by Market Segment
Exhibit 3 Asia Market Leaders and market developments
Exhibit 4 Asia Market Challengers and market developments
Exhibit 5 Asia Market Emergents and market developments
Exhibit 6 Map of North Korea

Companies Mentioned

  • North Korea Post and Telecommunications Corp (NKPTC)
  • NEAT&T
  • Sunnet
  • Loxley Pacific
  • Lancelot Holdings
  • Orascom
  • Star JV