Panama - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses
Panama's additional cable connectivity to improve broadband from 2019
Panama's economic prospects remain promising, with GDP growth during the last few years being steady at between 5% and 6% annually. This growth has had a positive effect on the country's telecom market, which has also grown steadily and attracted considerable investment from significant international operators including Telefónica, America Móvil and Liberty Global. Liberty Global in 2016 acquired Cable & Wireless Communications, which owns the incumbent telco Cable & Wireless Panama. The deal has enabled Liberty Global to combine CWP's businesses in Panama and the Caribbean with its own operations in Chile and Puerto Rico. The merged operator provides improved bundled service offerings and has stimulated competition with the other regional players Digicel and Claro.
Telecom revenue has broached $1 billion during the last few years, and continues to increase steadily, 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 CWP 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 customers having multiple SIM cards has pushed mobile penetration rates above 174%, considerably higher than the regional average. The arrival of two new mobile players 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 unit 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 2017 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.
Market penetration rates in Panama's telecom sector 2016 (e) Service | Penetration Broadband | 8.1% Fixed-line | 15.9%% Mobile (SIM): | 172.8% (Source: BuddeComm)
South America Pacific Link cable to be ready for service by early 2019, connecting Panama to the Caribbean and Asian regions; Movistar, Claro and C&WP extend reach of LTE services; Regulators of Panama and Costa Rica assess technical aspects of digital dividend spectrum use; C&WP contracts Ericsson to develop VoLTE and Wi-Fi Calling services; C&WP trials G-fast technology with Huawei; Mobile number portability encouraging competition in the mobile sector; Internet for All (RNI) project helping drive internet penetration; Panama in Phase 2 of the switch to digital broadcasting, with the process expected to be complete by September 2017; Broadband for Central America project aims to closing the digital divide by 2020. Report update includes the regulator's market data to December 2016, operator data to Q1 2017, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Cable and Wireless Panama, Cable Onda, Claro, Optynex Telecom