Shake up in Panama’s internet and mobile markets
With one of the region’s highest GDP growth forecast for 2012, the outlook is promising for Panama’s telecom market. The GDP per capita is the highest in Central America and is amongst the five fastest growing countries in Latin America. In 2012, telecom revenues are expected to reach about US$910 million, with mobile services and broadband being the fastest growing sectors.
Panama’s fixed-line teledensity is well below average for Latin America and the Caribbean; in fact, it is at least three percentage points lower than one would expect, considering the country’s relatively high economic indicators. To make up for the shortfall, the number of fixed lines is increasing, albeit slowly, thanks to alternative operators using fibre-coaxial or fixed-wireless networks.
Competition is limited in the broadband sector, where incumbent Cable & Wireless Panamá is reluctant to unbundle its local network and has secured a virtual monopoly in the delivery of ADSL access. The only competition is across technologies, from cable modem and WiMAX services.
The mobile sector, on the other hand, has been flourishing, with penetration well above the 100% milestone and about 30% higher than the regional average. The arrival of two new mobile players around the start of 2009 has resulted in high levels of promotional activity and steep price reductions that have shaken the market. Digicel Panamá began operations in 2008, and América Móvil’s Claro in 2009. Previously, Panama’s mobile market had been a duopoly between Cable & Wireless Panamá and Telefónica’s Movistar.
Internet penetration is expected to grow further in 2011/12 thanks to 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, reaching 80% of the population. The National Internet Network project does not compete with private broadband providers, because its aim is digital inclusion and not the provision of high-speed access.
Mobile number portability comes into play.
The Internet for All or RNI project has increased internet penetration to over 40%.
In 2009, Cable & Wireless Panamá entered the pay TV sector, heavily dominated by Cable Onda and increased its market share to over 15% by mid-2011, mostly by churning customers from the competitors. The success is driving the company to roll out IPTV services in 2012.
The Panamanian government adopted the DVB standard for digital terrestrial TV in 2009, and launched commercial digital terrestrial TV operations in the second half of 2011.
In 2010, the Panamanian government created the largest WiMAX network in Central America, providing free internet access across the country, but by 2011 WiMAX services had attracted under 4,000 subscribers.
Claro became the first operator to launch HSPA+ operations in Panama in 2011. C&W Panamá launched services later in the year, while Digicel invested some US$100 million before its mid02012 launch.
Panama – key telecom parameters – 2010 - 2011
Category | 2010 | 2011 (e)
Total number of subscribers1 | 553,000 | 575,000
Teledensity1 | 15.4% | 15.8%
Internet users (million) | 1.50 | 1.65
Internet users penetration | 41.8% | 45.3%
Total number of subscribers | 276,000 | 320,000
Penetration rate | 7.7% | 8.8%
Mobile telephony subscribers
Total number of subscribers (million) | 6.50 | 6.80
Mobile penetration rate | 185.4% | 187.2
Panama has excellent growth potential especially in mobile and broadband services. The report covers trends and developments in the fixed-line, mobile, internet, broadband, and pay TV markets.
Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
Facts, figures, and statistics;
Government policies and regulatory issues;
Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband);
Internet and broadband market (DSL, cable modem, wireless);
Mobile market (including 3G and mobile broadband);
Scenario forecasts for the fixed-line, mobile, and broadband markets for 2011, 2012 and 2016.
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