Shock as North Korea gets 3G phone network

3G phone
North Korea looks like moving up in the world. Shame about the human rights, though...

Amid all the fuss about 3G versions of certain phones, we like to keep mostly quiet about the fact that it’s no big deal to most people – after all, a call’s a call, whether on a 2G or 3G network.

Where advanced phone networks do matter, however, is in their ability to carry more data at higher speeds, but that usually counts only in more mature markets where customers use their phones for more than calling or SMS.

Backwards or not?

So, it comes as a huge surprise to discover that one of the world’s most backward countries, the dictator (not communist, in case you’re wondering) state of North Korea, is about to start commercial 3G services.

According to Egyptian company Osracom, it has been working in the hermit nation with the government telecoms branch since January on a W-CDMA network.

On Monday this week it announced that it has placed its first 3G call on that network and that it would be pressing ahead with plans for commercialisation towards the end of this year.

Quite how North Korea’s citizens are supposed to take part in this new great leap forwards is anyone’s guess when they suffer routine oppression and frequent famines.

Still, at least the move underlines just how little consumer gadgets really do matter in an imperfect world.

J Mark Lytle was an International Editor for TechRadar, based out of Tokyo, who now works as a Script Editor, Consultant at NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Writer, multi-platform journalist, all-round editorial and PR consultant with many years' experience as a professional writer, their bylines include CNN, Snap Media and IDG.