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.

Compared to other Asian nations, North Korea has very low mobile, mobile broadband and fixed broadband penetration. Political instability has disrupted the telecoms sector of markets such as North Korea and made it unfavourable for investment in network upgrades.

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.

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 five years however from a very small base compared to other Asian countries. Moderate to strong growth is predicted over the next five years to 2022, 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.

The country’s mobile market is a major driver of telecoms infrastructure development. Fibre optic links connect major cities and network capacity has been upgraded using fibre optic technology platforms such as Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM).

North Korea’s internet connection had reportedly been reinforced by Russian telecoms firm TransTeleCom (TTK).

North Korea has seen a strong increase in mobile broadband penetration over the past few years driven by a rising level of mobile subscribers. However the mobile broadband market is still at an early stage of development with penetration well that below of other Asian countries due to limited mobile user penetration.

Key developments:

  • North Korea’s internet connection had reportedly been reinforced by Russian telecoms firm TransTeleCom (TTK).
  • 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.
  • E-commerce and e-education initiatives have been launched.

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
      • 9.1.1 Mobile phone costs
    • 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 North Korea – 2017
  • Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2017 (e)
  • Table 3 – Mobile statistics – 2017 (e)
  • Table 4 – Broadband statistics – 2017 (e)
  • Table 5 – National telecommunications authority
  • Table 6 – Historic - North Korea GDP growth rates – 1990; 1995; 2000 – 2014
  • Table 7 – Fixed lines in service and penetration – 1990; 2000 - 2017
  • Table 8 – Mobile Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2008 - 2022
  • Table 9 – Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2015 - 2022
  • Table 10 – Historic - Koryolink revenue, EBITDA, CAPEX – 2012 - 2015
  • Table 11 – Historic Koryolink ARPU – 2012 - 2014
  • Table 12 – Historic - Koryolink quarterly revenue, EBITDA, EBITDA margin, capex – 2009 - 2011
  • Table 13 – 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) – 2008 - 2022
  • Chart 5 – Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2015 - 2022
  • 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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