The world’s fastest growing mobile market is… North Korea.Mobile phone subscriptions jumped from 1,600 in 2008 to 300,000 in the third quarter of last year, according to Chosun Ilbo.
These numbers are provided by Orascom, an Egyptian company that has a monopoly in the DPRK. Orascom introduced 3G service several years ago in a partnership with the North Korean Post Office. Thanks to this late entry to the mobile market, North Korea is perhaps the only country with 100% 3G service.
Of course there are obstacles in this market. Orascom refuses to accept payment in the worthless North Korean won, taking dollars or yuan instead.
Orascom also must abide by the highly censored form of internet available in North Korean. Counting illegal users on a Chinese network, there may be as many as half a million mobile users, according to Chosun Ilbo.