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

Executive summary

North Korea’s Telecoms Market continues to struggle

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.

The market penetration of fixed lines in service in North Korea has been gradually declining over the past 10 years, although the overall number of fixed lines in services has remained stable. Fixed broadband penetration remains relatively low in North Korea compared to other Asian nations.

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

CHEO Technology (Koryolink), reportedly halted operations and transferred its subscriber base to the nation’s only other MNO, GSM services provider Kang Song NET which is believed to be a wholly state-owned company.

Egypt’s Orascom Investment Holdings announced that it has been granted an exemption from the United Nations (UN) to continue to operate CHEO Technology (Koryolink), its JV mobile business with North Korea’s Post and Telecommunication Company.

Moderate to strong growth is predicted over the next five years to 2023, however mobile penetration in North Korea is predicted to remain well below that of other Asian nations due to government restrictions.

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. E-education initiatives have been launched to improve access to learning while e-commerce sites have launched.

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. 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:

  • CHEO Technology (Koryolink), reportedly halted operations and transferred its subscriber base to the nation’s only other MNO.
  • Egypt’s Orascom Investment Holdings was granted an exemption from the UN to continue to operate CHEO Technology (Koryolink).
  • 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.

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 Regional Market Comparison
    • 4.3 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 Background
    • 8.2 Market Developments
    • 8.3 Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
    • 8.4 Revival of the .kp domain
  • 9. Mobile market
    • 9.1 Market Overview and Analysis
    • 9.2 Mobile statistics and Market Forecast
    • 9.3 Mobile Broadband statistics and Market Forecast
  • 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
  • Table 1 – Country Statistics, Major Operators and Telco Authorities – 2018 (e)
  • Table 2 – Top Level Country Statistics – 2018 (e)
  • Table 3 – Fixed lines in service and penetration – 1990; 2000 - 2018
  • Table 4 – Fixed Broadband Subscribers and Penetration – 2015 - 2018
  • Table 5 – Mobile Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2009 – 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
  • Chart 1 – Asian Telecoms Maturity Index by Market Category
  • Chart 2 – Asian Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per Capita
  • Chart 3 – Fixed Broadband vs Mobile Penetration - Northern Asia (selected countries)
  • Chart 4 – Mobile Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2009 - 2023
  • Chart 5 – Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2015 - 2023
  • Exhibit 1 – Map of North Korea
  • Exhibit 2 – Key Market Characteristics by Market Segment
  • Exhibit 3 – Northern Asia - Key Characteristics of Telecoms Markets by Country

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