North Korea’s sole 3G operator Koryolink has surpassed the half million subscriber mark, according to latest results from Orascom Telecom.
Orascom owns a majority stake in Koryolink’s parent company Cheo Technology.
Koryolink ended Q1 this year with 535,000 subscribers, a 420% increase year-on-year. Orascom's financial statement said Koryolink operations for the quarter had been focused on boosting subscriber growth and maximizing foreign currency reserves.
The growth in subscriber numbers was due to VAS offerings, a wide distribution network and the expansion of network coverage in the country. Koryolink subscribers were offered recharge cards dubbed “Euro Packs”, which offered free off-peak VAS and could be paid for in Euro, in a bid to boost the company’s Euro revenue. The quarter also saw MMS offered for the first time to Koryolink subscribers.
Koryolink’s network in the country consists of 341 base stations that cover the capital Pyongyang, 14 main cities and 72 smaller cities. The network covered 92% of the population end Q1.
Profit figures were not given by Orascom, but Koryolink’s revenue hit $25.7 million end Q1, a 185% increase year-on-year. EBITDA was $22.5 million and ARPU fell 40.5% year-on-year to $12.7 for three months.
Koryolink’s 535,000 subscribers make up a fraction of the country’s estimated 24 million strong population, according to figures from the World Bank.