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North Korea to get 3G network despite cell phone ban

An Egyptian company said it will launch 3G mobile telephone service in North Korea on Monday, after winning the contract to build the advanced network in a country where private cell phones are banned.

Under the terms of the deal reached in January, Orascom Telecom will invest $400 million in network infrastructure and license fees over the first three years to develop the network. Orascom said it was the first foreign telecommunications company to be awarded a North Korean commercial telecommunications license.

It was not clear what restrictions, if any, would be imposed on the network, which provides data capabilities as well as phone services. Ordinary North Koreans are forbidden from having cellular phones, and the government maintains strict controls over Internet access.

Orascom has said it intends to cover the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, and most of the major cities during the first year of service. North Korea, one of the world’s poorest countries, is pushing hard to give its capital city a facelift — a makeover coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the communist nation founded in September 1948.

Orascom Telecom spokeswoman Rasha Mohamed confirmed in an e-mail on Sunday that the service will be launched on Monday. Additional details were not immediately available.

Read the full story in Associated Press here.

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