North Korea’s telecom sector shrinks even more following Orascom write-down

North Korea’s telecom sector shrinks even more following Orascom write-down

Following years of isolationism and economic under-achievement, North Korea languishes near the bottom of the world’s telecom maturity index alongside Afghanistan and Turkmenistan (who also happen to be struggling under repressive political regimes).

To make matters worse, in 2022 North Korea achieved the lowest score in the world for economic freedom. It barely needs saying that developing a healthy and prosperous telecommunications sector isn’t exactly high on the dictatorship’s agenda.

The obstacles to building a functioning telecom network are so numerous that a fixed-line segment barely exists. Foreign investors have been permitted to partner with the North Korea Post & Telecommunications Corporation (NKPTC) to progress mobile voice, text, and broadband services, albeit on a strictly limited scale and with tight restrictions over what can be accessed. Mobile penetration is estimated to have eased up slightly to reach 19% in 2021, yet the high cost of ownership coupled with strict censorship makes mobile communications the exclusive domain of senior government officials and diplomats.

For those citizens living close to China, it has been possible to obtain Chinese handsets and SIM cards, and to connect to towers (illegally) located just across the border. While this offers access to the outside world and at much lower prices than the state-controlled offerings, the risks are high including steep fines and the possibility of jail time.

North Korea has been slightly more effective in building an IT sector and a nascent digital economy on the back of a concerted effort to grow a sizeable, well-trained IT workforce. But even here, its capabilities have been directed more towards nefarious activities such as cybercrime and hacking into Western countries’ computer systems. North Korea’s determination to put itself offside with the rest of the world in pursuit of its ideology can only lead to tighter controls on communications inside and outside of the country.

This report update includes the latest Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses; an assessment of the global impact of the pandemic on the telecoms sector; and recent market developments.

Key developments:

  • Orascom writes off its investment in mobile market leader Koryolink, effectively handing over the network to government control.

Get a Full Copy of this Report

Developing Telecoms market report summaries are produced in partnership with BuddeCom, the world’s largest continually updated online telecommunications research service.

The above article is a summary of the following BuddeCom report:

Report title: North Korea - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Edition: April 2022

Analyst: Stephen Marshall

Number of pages: 80

Single User PDF Licence Price: US$1390

Companies mentioned in this report: North Korea Post and Telecommunications Corp (NKPTC), NEAT&T, Sunnet, Lancelot Holdings, Loxley Pacific, Orascom, Koryolink, Kang Song, Byol

For more information or to purchase a copy of the full report please use the following link: https://www.budde.com.au/Research/North-Korea-Telecoms-Mobile-and-Broadband-Statistics-and-Analyses/?r=83

MORE ARTICLES YOU MAY BE INTERESTED IN...


Sign-up to our weekly newsletter

Keep up-to-date with all the latest news, articles, event and product updates posted on Developing Telecoms.
Subscribe to our FREE weekly email newsletters for the latest telecom info in developing and emerging markets globally.
Sending occasional e-mail from 3rd parties about industry white papers, online and live events relevant to subscribers helps us fund this website and free weekly newsletter. We never sell your personal data. Click here to view our privacy policy.