By: Lamia Nabil
Orascom Telecom Holding (OTH) subsidiary Koryolink, the only 3G mobile provider in North Korea, is now nearing 2 million subscribers.
Koryolink has now doubled its subscriber base since February of last year, when it hit the 1 million mark.
The news was confirmed by Koryolink’s CEO Ezz Heikal at the company’s headquarters in Pyongyang, according to North Korea Tech.
Koryolink is operated through Cheo Technology, a joint venture between OTH and the North Korean Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.
OTH owns 75% of the operation, with the North Korean government owning the rest.
Mobile phone usage in the insular Republic was, according to North Korea Tech, practically unheard of before OTH launched Koryolink in 2008.
The service is now available across the capital Pyongyang and in all major cities and along main roads and rail routes across the country.
Services include voice calls, SMS and 3G internet, despite the North Korean government preventing its citizens from using the latter.
Citizens in North Korea are also forbidden from making international calls.
Foreigners and tourists visiting the country, on the other hand, are allowed to use internet and international communication, but are barred from contacting most domestic phone lines.
Koryolink launched its 3G coverage in Pyongyang in December 2008 with an initial 5,300 subscribers.
OTH is indirectly owned by Vimplecom and Altimo Holdings, which own the company’s GDRs on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), and is preparing for a 100% share takeover by Cyprus-based Baskindale.
In addition to Egypt’s Mobinil and Koryolink, the company also owns Djezzy GSM, Algeria’s principal mobile service provider.