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

North Korea Sees Further Social Media Restrictions

North Korea possesses an underdeveloped yet growing market which has markedly improved in recent years as noted by growing mobile penetration. North Korea’s telecoms infrastructure developed largely through foreign investment, most significantly by Thai investors and Egyptian telecoms investment company Orascom Telecom Holdings.

Communications with the outside world is restricted as everyday citizens are only able to receive news through government-controlled channels such as TV and radio broadcasting as well as the government-controlled Intranet. Technological improvements are evident, most notably through the introduction of high definition TV (HDTV) digital broadcasting.

The North Korean mobile market has seen strong growth over the past six years however from a very small base compared to other Asian countries.

North Korea has taken steps towards developing a digital economy as part of efforts to modernize its economy as well as a means to generate export income, especially in the field of IT services. North Korean e-commerce website Manmulsang now provides delivery services to all parts of the country.

There has been a recent been a sharp drop off in social media activity in North Korea. Facebook and Instagram are almost absent in terms of activity levels in North Korea and Chinese services are being increasingly favoured.

North Korea’s mobile market is a major driver of telecoms infrastructure development. A 3G only network has been deployed providing almost universal population coverage, one of few countries in the world that is able to claim that its entire mobile market is comprised of 3G subscribers. Fibre optic links connect major cities and network capacity has been upgraded using fibre optic technology platforms such as Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM).

Key developments:

  • There has been a recent been a sharp drop off in social media activity in North Korea.
  • E-commerce and e-education initiatives have been launched.
  • Mobile broadband will see moderate growth to 2023.

Companies mentioned in this report:

North Korea Post and Telecommunications Corp (NKPTC); NEAT&T; SUN NET; Loxley Pacific; Lancelot Holdings; Orascom, Star JV.

Table of Contents

  • Key statistics

  • Country overview

    • Background
  • Telecommunications market

    • Market Overview and Analysis
    • Regional Market Comparison
    • Historical overview
  • Regulatory environment

    • Overview
  • Fixed network operators

    • Lancelot Holdings
    • Loxley Pacific (Loxpac)
    • Shin Satellite Corp
  • Telecommunications infrastructure

    • National telecom network
      • North-South connections
    • International infrastructure
      • Satellite
  • Fixed-line broadband market

    • Background
    • Market Developments
    • Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
    • Revival of the .kp domain
  • Mobile market

    • Background
    • Mobile statistics and Market Forecast
    • Mobile Broadband statistics and Market Forecast
    • Mobile infrastructure
      • 3G
    • Major mobile operators
      • Sunnet
      • Koryolink / Kang Song Net
      • Byol
    • Mobile content and applications
    • Mobile handsets
  • Digital economy

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

    • Broadcasting market
      • Overview
      • TV stations
      • Satellite TV
    • Social media
      • Overview
      • Twitter
      • Facebook
      • YouTube
    • Communications: VoIP, messaging, conferencing
      • North Korea on Google Maps
  • Related reports


List of Tables

  • Table 1 – Country Statistics, Major Operators and Telco Authorities – 2018 (e)
  • Table 2 – Top Level Country Statistics – 2018 (e)
  • Table 3 – Historic - North Korea GDP growth rates – 1990; 1995; 2000 – 2014
  • Table 4 – Fixed lines in service and penetration – 1990; 2000 - 2017
  • Table 5 – Mobile Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2008 - 2023
  • Table 6 – Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2015 - 2023
  • Table 7 – Historic - Koryolink revenue, EBITDA, CAPEX – 2012 - 2015
  • Table 8 – Historic Koryolink ARPU – 2012 - 2014
  • Table 9 – Historic - Koryolink quarterly revenue, EBITDA, EBITDA margin, capex – 2009 - 2011
  • Table 10 – Historic - Koryolink quarterly subscribers, MoU and ARPU – 2009 – 2014

List of Charts

  • Chart 3 – Telecoms Maturity Index – Northern Asia
  • Chart 4 – Mobile Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2008 - 2023
  • Chart 5 – Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2015 - 2023

List of Exhibits

  • Exhibit 1 – Map of North Korea
  • Exhibit 3 – Northern Asia -Key Characteristics of Telecoms Markets by Country

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