Asia's newest mobile market, North Korea, is picking up steam, with the country's sole mobile operator hitting 800,000 subscribers by the end of September.
Koryolink, the joint venture between Egypt's Orascom Telecom and state-owned Korea Post and Telecom, lifted its 3G subscriber base by 170% in the 12 months ending in September.
The network now consists of 453 base stations covering 94% of the population of roughly 24 million, Orascom revealed in a quarterly report. But the network only covers 14% of the territory of North Korea.
The joint venture increased its revenue for the third quarter by 125% year-on-year to $41.5 million, but this was only a fraction of Orascom's total revenue for the quarter of $1.1 billion.
But Orascom blamed the strong subscriber growth for a 9% decline in Koryolink's blended ARPU to $14.70, although ebitda margins improved to 80% from 40.5% a year earlier.
Koryolink launched services in December 2008 after Orascom won the nation's 3G license at the start of that year. The operator passed the half-million subscriber mark in May.