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N. Korea expanding telecom network nationwide: report

All Headlines 14:07 August 26, 2009

SEOUL, Aug. 26 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is expanding the nation's telecom networks and modernizing its broadcasting sector, official media reports said Wednesday.

Mobile communication networks are "being established on a national scale," the North's Korean Central Broadcasting Station said. It said fiber-optic cables have been laid in all provinces to "upgrade communication capability and quality" and enhance the flow of information throughout the country.

The report said automation and digital capacity has increased some seven fold from 16 years ago, citing the "realization of fiber-optic technology" in provinces and small towns.

The news comes following an improved second-quarter earnings report filed by Orascom Telecom, an Egypt-based mobile carrier that has set up a joint venture in North Korea to establish a third-generation (3G) mobile network there in December 2008.

North Korea first launched mobile phone service in Pyongyang in November 2002, but banned it after a deadly explosion in the northern Ryongchon train station in April 2004, apparently to prevent word of the accident from spreading.

Orascom reported that its operating profit from North Korea reached US$2.49 million in the April-June period, soaring about eight fold from $312,000 for the previous quarter.

Second quarter sales for Koryolink, a 75-25 percent joint venture between Orascom and North Korea, amounted to $8.01 million, with its profit margin reaching 31 percent, up substantially from the 7 percent for the previous three months, according to Orascom.

The number of mobile phone subscribers stood at 47,863 as of end of June, Orascom said, adding that it plans to cut prices to expand its user base.

odissy@yna.co.kr
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