Panama's economic growth susceptible to Nicaragua canal route
Panama has benefited from maintaining one of the region's highest GDP growth rates in recent years. The country's economic prospects remain promising despite a dip in GDP growth anticipated for 2014. Nevertheless, strong growth in recent years has had a positive knock-on effect on the country's telecom market, which has also grown steadily and attracted considerable investment. In 2014, telecom revenues are expected to have broached $1 billion for the first time, with mobile services and broadband being the fastest growing sectors.
Panama's fixed-line teledensity is well below average for the region, though it is rising steadily from a relatively low base, largely due to alternative operators making use of cable or fixed-wireless networks.
Competition remains limited in the broadband sector, where the incumbent Cable & Wireless Panamá has resisted unbundling its local network and as a result has secured a virtual monopoly in the delivery of DSL access. The only cross-platform competition is from cable modem and WiMAX services.
The mobile sector has flourished in recent years, and the popularity of having multiple SIM cards has pushed mobile penetration rates to above 190%, considerably higher than the regional average. The arrival of two new mobile players at the beginning of 2009 resulted in additional competition and steep price reductions which have shaken the market. Digicel Panamá launched operations in 2008, followed by América Móvil's Claro in 2009. This ended the duopoly long enjoyed by Cable & Wireless Panamá and Telefónica's Movistar.
Internet penetration has grown in recent years and is expected to do so steadily further into 2014 and into 2015 as a result of consumer demand for services as well as the stimulus of the government's Internet for All project. In 2010, Panama became one of the first countries in the world to offer free wireless broadband access nationwide. The National Internet Network project does not compete with private broadband providers, because its aim is digital inclusion and not the provision of broadband access.
Panama penetration by service 2014 (e)
Service | Penetration
Broadband | 10.5%
Fixed-line | 18.6%
Mobile (SIM): | 159%
Movistar and C&WP launch LTE services;
Mobile number portability has been introduced, encouraging competition in the mobile sector.
The Internet for All (RNI) project has increased internet penetration to over 40%.
The entry of Cable & Wireless Panamá into the pay TV sector has eroded the dominance of Cable Onda and encouraged the company to roll out IPTV services as well.
Having adopted the DVB standard for DTTV, Panama is approaching Phase 2 of the switch to digital broadcasting, with the process expected to be complete by September 2017.
Mobile broadband has become popular in Panama, particularly in rural areas, following the introduction of HSPA+ services by Claro , C&WP and Digicel.
C&W Group has undergone a number of operational changes, with Macau and Islands businesses being sold to focus on pan-America. The Group will run its businesses in the Caribbean and Panama as a unified operation.
Columbus signs on to manage the SAPL cable landing in Panama;
The regulator has invested $12 million to distribute 400,000 STBs in a bid to encourage DTTV take-up;
Broadband for Central America project gets under way, aimed at closing the digital divide by 2020.
C&WP has launched its +TV Digital DTH platform, aiming to provide content to remote areas which cannot receive cable services.
Companies mentioned in this report include:
Cable and Wireless Panama, Cable Onda, Claro, Optynex Telecom
This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Panama's telecommunications market. The report analyses the mobile, internet, broadband, digital TV and converging media sectors.
Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
Facts, figures and statistics;
Industry and regulatory issues;
Major Players, Revenues, Subscribers, ARPU, MoU;
Internet, VoIP, IPTV;
Mobile Voice and Data Markets;
Broadband (FttP, DSL, cable, wireless);
Convergence and Digital Media;
3G subscriber and mobile ARPU forecasts to 2015;
Broadband market forecasts for selective years to 2020.
Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
Market liberalisation and industry issues;
Telecoms operators privatisation, IPOs, acquisitions, new licences;
Mobile technologies (GSM; 3G, HSPA, LTE).