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North Korea's Miracle 3G

11:45 AM -- Orascom Telecom is building the first WCDMA network in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea through majority-owned subsidiary CHEO Technology JV Company. It will be the first commercial mobile network for North Korea's 23 million people. But the network equipment supplier remains a mystery. (See Orascom Wins N Korea License.)

None of the big equipment vendors are involved. Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , and Nokia Networks have each told Unstrung that they did not bid on this network and are not involved in any way. One industry source said ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) was working on the project, but a ZTE spokeswoman said she could not confirm or deny our information.

Orascom has not replied to Unstrung's questions.

Given the political situation in North Korea -- one of George W. Bush's "axis of evil" countries -- it's not hard to see why some companies would not want to pursue business there right now.

Orascom completed the first call on the WCDMA network in May and plans to launch commercial services in three cities later this year. Orascom will spend $400 million over the next three years to build out the network.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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