Eqyptian carrier to introduce mobile phone service to North Korea

Egypt's Orascom Telecom will invest up to $400 million to set up a mobile phone network in North Korea, one of the world's poorest and most tightly controlled societies, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report quoted Hatim E. El Gammal, an Orascom investor relations official, as saying that the network would be the first based on 3G in North Korea.

He didn't elaborate on the deal but said construction would begin 'in the near future.'

Orascom said in a statement on its web site that a joint venture subsidiary, CHEO Technology, would offer services throughout North Korea for 25 years under the terms of the deal and exclusively for the first four years.

Orascom said that it controls 75% of CHEO, with the rest held by the state-run Korea Post and Telecommunications.

North Korea, a highly militaristic dictatorship in which dissent is severely punished, has lagged far behind its neighbors economically, with development stymied by years of mismanagement and isolation, the report further said.

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