Orascom concludes mobile tests in North Korea

Arab regional mobile operator Orascom Telecom has successfully tested its network in North Korea and will launch mobile services there in the second half of 2008, a Reuters report said.

The Reuters report, quoting the company, also said Orascom's North Korean subsidiary CHEO Technology had successfully made a 'first call' on the network in the reclusive communist state.

'The success of this trial network "&brkbar; represents the first step in providing coverage throughout the DPRK ,' the company said in a statement.

Orascom Telecom won North Korea's first mobile phone licence in January, and has said it plans to invest on infrastructure and licence fees over the next three years.

The Cairo-based group said CHEO, in which the North Korean government holds a 25 % stake, was 'looking to launch its full commercial mobile services within the second half of 2008,' the Reuters report further said.

A spokeswoman said there was no specific launch date for commercial services. Egypt-based telecoms analyst Walaa Hazem of HC Securities said he anticipated a launch early in the second half of the year, the report further said.