updated 05:04 am EST, Fri February 22, 2013
Internet access still denied to general population
North Korea is allowing foreign users access to the Internet over mobile devices. The ability for travelers to use the country's 3G network comes one month after the secluded country permitted the use of mobile phones by tourists, though not quite the same access will be offered to resident citizens in the country.
Koryolink, a partnership between Korea Post & Telecommunications Corporation, and Orascom Telecom of Egypt, will be launching its 3G mobile Internet service on or after March 1st, according to the Associated Press. While roaming using an existing SIM will not be permitted, visitors can use a Koryolink SIM with their own phone. It is not clear if these connections will be monitored by the government, or if there will be some restrictions or filtering in place to prevent certain information from being transmitted.
Though the 3G service is a step forward for the region, North Korean residents will not gain access to the Internet. Some services that use 3G, such as SMS, MMS messaging, video calls, and access to a state-run newspaper will be available for North Koreans to communicate, but general Internet access remains off-limits. Currently only a small number of people have access to the Internet in the country, after being approved by the government to do so, and it is possible that these approved users may yet be permitted to access whilst mobile.
In recent months, Google Maps has been updated to show roads within North Korea, and company chairman Eric Schmidt recently traveled to the country in order to encourage North Korea to join the rest of the world in being on the Internet.