North Korea to switch on 3G network for foreigners by March 1

By March 1, foreigners in North Korea will be able to access the Internet via a 3G mobile network. This is achieved by using a SIM card that is available for purchase for a lowish fee, but is unique to visitors. Those who live in North Korea are limited in their access to mobile services, and still won't have access to the World Wide Web. The network will be provided by Koryolink.

The service is set to launch by March 1, though it could happen earlier. This follows a change in North Korean law not too long ago that allows visitors to bring their own smartphones into the nation so that they can be used with the carrier's SIM card. This is something that was never before allowed, and provides visitors with a level of connectivity with the outside world that has never existed in the northern Korean nation before.

The SIM cards are available at Koryolink retail stores and at the airport, priced at $70USD. The call rate is reported by the Associated Press as being 5 Euros per minute to the United States. Not surprisingly, calls to South Korea are not allowed. The hefty price tags will no doubt prevent travelers from using their cell phone as they would elsewhere, but does provide a necessary service to visitors, giving an (expensive) way to contact home.

In addition, users will be able to purchase a per-month mobile broadband plan via the service, using the SIM card in their mobile data device (USB modems will be supported). The cost of the monthly plan has not been released yet, however, but we're guessing it'll be pretty high if the per-minute rate is any indication.

[via Yahoo]