A blog dedicated to technology news in North Korea have reported that almost two million North Koreans now use the country’s only 3G network.
The figure has been confirmed by 3G provider Koryolink, a partnership between Egyptian telecoms firm Orascom and the North Korean government.
The service can only be used to make voice calls, and all international calls are banned.
At the start of 2012 Koryolink claimed to have one million 3G subscribers.
In January 2013 the government began allowing visitors to North Korea to bring in their mobile phones for the first time.
Almost two million North Koreans use the country’s only 3G network
Unlike residents, visitors to North Korea would now be able to use the 3G network for mobile internet access as well, by purchasing local SIM cards, the country said at the time.
However, last month, a China-based tour operator called Koryo Tours, which specializes in tourist visits to North Korea, posted a note on its website saying that 3G was no longer available for visitors.
North Koreans only have access to a very limited, state-run set of internet pages.
When Google Chair Eric Schmidt visited North Korea at the start of the year he urged the government to allow citizens access to the wider internet and said it would be “easy” for the 3G network to include data access.
“As the world becomes increasingly connected, the North Korean decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world and their economic growth,” Eric Schmidt wrote in a blog post.
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt called China an Internet menace that backs cyber-crime for economic and political gain in a new book, The New Digital Age, due for release in April.
The New Digital Age reportedly brands China “the world’s most active and enthusiastic filterer of information”.
China is “the most sophisticated and prolific” hacker of foreign companies, according to a review obtained by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
China denies allegations of hacking.
Beijing has been accused by several governments, foreign companies and organizations of carrying out extensive cyber espionage for many years, seeking to gather information and to control China’s image.
The New Digital Age analyses how China is dangerously exploiting an Internet that now permeates politics, business, culture and other aspects of life, the WSJ says.
It quotes the book as saying: “The disparity between American and Chinese firms and their tactics will put both the government and the companies of the United States at a distinct disadvantage.”
This, it says, is because Washington “will not take the same path of digital corporate espionage, as its laws are much stricter (and better enforced) and because illicit competition violates the American sense of fair play”.
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt called China an Internet menace that backs cyber-crime for economic and political gain in a new book, The New Digital Age, due for release in April
The book argues that Western governments could do more to follow China’s lead and develop stronger relationships between the state and technology companies.
States will benefit if they use software and technology made by trusted companies, it suggests.
“Where Huawei gains market share, the influence and reach of China grow as well,” the WSJ quoted the authors as writing.
The WSJ this week said its computer systems had been hacked by specialists in China who were trying to monitor its China coverage.
It was the second reported attack on a major US news outlet in days, as the New York Times reported earlier that Chinese hackers had “persistently” penetrated its systems for the last four months.
China’s foreign ministry dismissed the New York Times’ accusations as “groundless” and “totally irresponsible”.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has urged North Korea to end its self-imposed isolation and allow its citizens to use the internet.
Speaking after a visit to Pyongyang, Eric Schmidt said North Korea would continue to lag economically unless it embraced internet freedom.
Eric Schmidt was part of a US delegation led by former state governor Bill Richardson.
They also urged North Korea to end nuclear and missile tests, and raised the case of a US detainee.
Bill Richardson, also a former US envoy to the UN, has visited North Korea several times in the past, most recently in December 2010. On two occasions he helped secure the release of detained US nationals.
Speaking at a media briefing in Beijing after arriving from North Korea, Eric Schmidt said he had been in Pyongyang to discuss a free and open internet.
Internet use is highly restricted in North Korea – few people have access to a computer and most users can only access a national intranet rather than the world wide web.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has urged North Korea to end its self-imposed isolation and allow its citizens to use the internet
“As the world becomes increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world, their economic growth and so forth, and it will make it harder for them to catch up economically,” he said.
“Once the Internet starts, citizens in a country can certainly build on top of it. The government has to do something. It has to make it possible for people to use the internet which the government in North Korea has not yet done.”
Bill Richardson said the delegation had raised the case of detainee Korean-American Kenneth Bae, who was arrested in November in circumstances that are not clear.
North Korea has in the past released detained Americans after high-profile US visits, but Bill Richardson said he had been unable to meet Kenneth Bae.
“We strongly urged the North Koreans to proceed with a moratorium on ballistic missiles and possible nuclear test,” he also said.
The delegation’s Pyongyang trip comes less than a month after North Korea put a satellite into orbit using a three-stage rocket – a move condemned by the US as a banned test of long-range missile technology.
The US government has described the visit as “not particularly helpful”.
“We continue to think the trip is ill-advised,” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Monday.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson are in North Korea on a visit described as unhelpful by the US government.
Speaking in Beijing before flying to Pyongyang, Bill Richardson said the visit was “a private humanitarian mission”.
He said he planned to raise the case of a US citizen detained in North Korea.
Bill Richardson has visited North Korea several times in the past, most recently in December 2010.
On two occasions he helped secure the release of detained US nationals. After his most recent visit he said Pyongyang had agreed to re-open its nuclear facilities to UN inspectors, but this did not transpire.
The detained US national is Korean-American Kenneth Bae, who was arrested in November in circumstances that are not clear. North Korea has in the past released detained Americans after high-profile US visits.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson are in North Korea on a visit described as unhelpful by the US government
Google, meanwhile, has not commented on Eric Schmidt’s trip.
“This is not a Google trip, but I’m sure he’s interested in some of the economic issues there, the social media aspect. So this is why we are teamed up on this,” Bill Richardson said.
“We’ll meet with North Korean political leaders. We’ll meet with North Korean economic leaders, military. We’ll visit some universities. We don’t control the visit. They will let us know what the schedule is when we get there,” he said.
Internet use is highly restricted in North Korea, where few people have access to a computer and most users can only access a national intranet rather than the world wide web.
The visit comes less than a month after North Korea put a satellite into orbit using a three-stage rocket – a move condemned by the US as a banned test of long-range missile technology.
“We don’t think the timing of this is particularly helpful,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said late last week.
Bill Richardson said the delegation was expecting to be in Pyongyang for two and a half days.