Stalinist North Korea has contracted with the Egyptian company Orascom Telecom to provide mobile phone service in the communist country. North Korea began mobile service in November 2002 but within 18 months banned the service for ordinary citizens and recalled handsets. It is believed the network is still available for government officials.
The deal will give Orascom Telecom a 25-year lease throughout the country, with an exclusivity period of four years.
“Orascom Telecom intends to invest up to 400 million dollars in network infrastructure and license fee over the first three years in order to rapidly deploy a high quality network and offer voice, data and value-added services at accessible prices to the Korean people,” the company said.
North Korea has a population of 23 million. Orascom will cover Pyongyang and most major cities in the first year of operations.
The North Korea deal “is in line with our strategy to penetrate countries with high population and low penetration by providing the first mobile telephony services,” said Naguib Sawiris, chairman and CEO.
The firm “has consistently proved its ability to successfully roll out mobile services into countries where no other operator has.”