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

Executive summary

North Korea’s mobile subscriber market continues to grow strongly from a small base

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 more recently, Egyptian telecoms investment company Orascom Telecom Holdings.

The North Korean mobile market has seen strong growth over the past five years however from a very small base compared to other countries. Penetration has increased from 4.1% in 2011 to 11.2% in 2014, 12.9% in 2015 and 13.8% in 2016. Mobile subscriber penetration is predicted to increase to strongly over the next two years to 2018.

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 in 2015.

The percentage of fixed lines in service in North Korea has been steadily declining over the past 10 years from 4.9% in 2007 to 4.7% in 2016.

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. Specific initiatives include domestic production of computers, mobile phones and a Linux operating system. E-education initiatives have been launched to improve access to learning while e-commerce sites have launched to improve convenience in ordering products and services.

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. However Orascom, the majority owner of North Korean mobile operator Koryolink, revealed in late-2015 it had effectively lost control of its North Korean operations.

Key developments:

  • The percentage of fixed lines in service in North Korea has been steadily declining over the past 10 years.
  • The North Korean mobile market has seen strong growth over the past five years however from a very small base compared to other countries.
  • North Korea launches HDTV broadcasts;
  • E-commerce and e-education initiatives have been launched;
  • OTMT loses control of Koryolink.

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

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
  • 3. Country overview
  • 4. Telecommunications market
    • 4.1 Market Overview and Analysis
    • 4.2 Historical overview
  • 5. Regulatory environment
    • 5.1 Overview
  • 6. Fixed network operators
    • 6.1 Lancelot Holdings
    • 6.2 Loxley Pacific (Loxpac)
    • 6.3 Shin Satellite Corp
  • 7. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 7.1 National telecom network
    • 7.2 International infrastructure
      • 7.2.1 Satellite
  • 8. Fixed-line broadband and internet market
    • 8.1 Market overview
    • 8.2 Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
    • 8.3 Revival of the .kp domain
  • 9. Mobile market
    • 9.1 Market Overview and Analysis
      • 9.1.1 Mobile phone costs
    • 9.2 Mobile statistics
  • 10. Mobile infrastructure
    • 10.1 3G
  • 11. Major mobile operators
    • 11.1 Sunnet
    • 11.2 Koryolink
    • 11.3 Byol
  • 12. Mobile content and applications
  • 13. Mobile handsets
    • 13.1 North Korea’s answer to the tablet
  • 14. Digital economy
    • 14.1 Korea Computing Centre (KCC)
    • 14.2 Personal computer production
    • 14.3 E-education
    • 14.4 E-commerce and E-payments
  • 15. Digital Media
    • 15.1 Broadcasting market
      • 15.1.1 Overview
      • 15.1.2 TV stations
      • 15.1.3 Satellite TV
    • 15.2 Videostreaming
    • 15.3 Social media
      • 15.3.1 Twitter
      • 15.3.2 Facebook
      • 15.3.3 YouTube
    • 15.4 Communications: VoIP, messaging, conferencing
      • 15.4.1 North Korea on Google Maps
  • 16. Related reports

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