North Korea has a second mobile operator

02 Jul 2015

North Korean mobile operator Koryolink reportedly has competition in the market in the form of a second local telecom operator.

Management of Koryolink is discussing a potential merger with the rival operator and has received an initial consent from the Korean party, according to Egyptian parent company Orascom's latest report.

The presence of a rival operator came as a surprise, as there has been no news of the launch from North Korea's tightly-controlled state media.

North Korea Tech noted that Koryolink had an initial five-year exclusivity agreement dating from its launch in 2008, but this agreement has since expired.

Koryolink has around 2.4 million connections in North Korea, equivalent to around 10% of the population, and an even higher proportion of the consumers that can afford a mobile service.

Orascom is also facing troubles extracting Koryolink's profits outside of North Korea due to currency controls and the wide discrepancy between the official and unofficial exchange rates for North Korean won.

Sanctions from the US and EU are meanwhile having a small but tangible impact on Koryolink's operations, and Orascom's report notes that Koryolink's operations can't be assured if sanction activity escalates.

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