North Korea Widens 3G Coverage - for Outsiders Only
Today in international tech news: North Korea unveils 3G -- but only for foreigners; LinkedIn is battling China's offline social networks; Huawei claims to have the world's fastest phone; and a fake version of the Mandiant hacking report is chock-full of viruses.
02/25/13 10:45 AM PT
North Korea is modernizing its technologies -- as only North Korea can.
Foreigners are now able to bring their mobile phones into the country, with the caveat that they must purchase North Korean SIM cards upon arrival.
Now Koryolink, a North Korean mobile phone provider, plans to launch a 3G data service -- but only foreigners can use it.
More than one million North Koreans use mobile phones, but not a one will be able to use the new 3G network, according to the BBC.
Egyptian telecommunications firm Orascom, a partner of Koryolink, launched a 3G phone network in North Korea in 2008, but it can only be used for phone calls. (International calls, including to South Korea, are banned, the BBC reported.)
North Korea's moves to digitize itself, small as they may be, come on the heels of a visit from Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, who visited the country in early January with former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. After leaving, Schmidt wrote on Google+ that North Korea's isolationist attitude toward the Internet was damaging its economic growth, adding that it would be easy for 3G access to be enabled with the existing technology.
This is precisely what's happened -- for visitors, at least. Locals, however, will still reportedly have yesteryear access that excludes foreign news.
LinkedIn Battling China's Real-World Social Networking
China's deeply-embedded notion of guanxi, which refers to personal relationships reinforced by mutual favors, is making it hard for Western professional networking sites to gain traction.
Guanxi doesn't bode well for US-based LinkedIn and French counterpart Viadeo, according to the South China Morning Post. The two social networks are trying to tap into China's vast Internet market, but the thinking is that guanxi will render professional networks moot because people do not want to meet -- and cannot gain from meeting -- people they don't already know. Having an extensive, hundreds-strong LinkedIn network is useless compared to having guanxi with the right person.
About one percent of LinkedIn's 200 million users come from China. The site is not available in Chinese.
Huawei Says It Has World's Speediest Phone
Chinese telecommunications equipment company Huawei has unveiled what it claims is the world's fastest smartphone.
The phone connects to the Internet two to three times faster than other WiFi-using smartphones, according to the Guardian.
The device, the Ascend P2, runs on Android. It can download music and videos in seconds, and high-definition films in minutes.
Huawei, which overtook BlackBerry in the fourth quarter of 2012 as the world's third-largest smartphone maker, was at the heart of a U.S. Congressional investigation last year over concerns that the company was a cybersecurity threat.
Mandiant Report: Fallout Still Falling
A report last week from cybersecurity firm Mandiant, which indicted the Chinese military in a perfectly grand cyberespionage campaign against the U.S., continued to generate stories.
China's hacking operations are becoming increasingly professional and, above all, huge, according to the Associated Press. China conducts "an order of magnitude" more cyberattacks than any other country, said a Rand Corporation analyst interviewed by the AP. The same expert also points out that the Chinese hackers take the weekend off -- a sign that they are paid and not part of a ragtag operation.
Hackers have also embedded viruses into a fake file of the Mandiant report, according to ZDNet.com. The tainted versions of the report install malware that allows hackers to remotely control the computer.