Russia provides North Korea with second internet route

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

Dyn Research spotted traffic coming from North Korea running over TransTeleCom's network, adding a second line to the one the country already has which is run by China Unicom

Russian carrier TransTeleCom has reportedly began routing North Korean traffic, adding a second internet connection between the reclusive country and the rest of the world.

The route, which comes via Russia, was first spotted by analysts at Dyn Research and is the second connection for North Korea, alongside a transit route provided by China Unicom.

According to CNN, state-owned TransTeleCom confirmed the link, saying it has had a backbone agreement with North Korea since 2009, although it refused to elaborate further.

TransTeleCom is part of Russian Railways, a huge state-owned infrastructure and transport company formerly headed by Vladimir Yakunin, who was viewed as a close ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, according to experts.

“The addition of Russian transit would create new internet path out of the country, increasing its resilience and international bandwidth capacity,” said Doug Madory, who analyses global Internet connectivity at Dyn.

The new connectivity comes at a time of heightened tensions between North Korea and most western states, following a number of nuclear tests carried out by Pyongnang which have been widely condemned. The North Korean government has also been locked in a war of words with US President Donald Trump, while the United Nations recently increased sanctions against the Asian country.

Martyn Williams, an expert in North Korea, reported on the new connection on 1 October, saying the link will “provide back-up to Pyongyang at a time the US government is reportedly attacking its Internet infrastructure and pressuring China to end all business with North Korea”.

Relying on one provider has always left the country “in a precarious position” he wrote for website 38North. North Korea has also reportedly had other alternative connections, including a satellite service provided by Intelsat.