Panama - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

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.

Table 1 – Market penetration rates in Panama’s telecom sector – 2016 (e)

Service Penetration
Broadband 8.1%
Fixed-line 15.9%%
Mobile (SIM): 172.8%

Key developments:

  • Digicel Panama confirmed with 700MHz spectrum licence award; South America Pacific Link cable to be ready for service by early 2019, connecting Panama to the Caribbean and Asian regions;
  • Deep Blue Cable begins project to extend its pan-Caribbean regional submarine cable system to Panama;
  • 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 2017, operator data to Q4 2017, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Cable and Wireless Panama, Cable Onda, Claro, Optynex Telecom

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
  • 3. Country overview
  • 4. Telecommunications market
    • 4.1 Historical overview
    • 4.2 Market analysis
  • 5. Regulatory environment
    • 5.1 Regulatory authorities
      • 5.1.1 ASEP
      • 5.1.2 ACODECO
    • 5.2 Privatisation of INTEL
    • 5.3 Telecom sector liberalisation
    • 5.4 Interconnect
    • 5.5 Number Portability (NP)
  • 6. Fixed network operators in Panama
    • 6.1 Overview
    • 6.2 Cable & Wireless Panamá
    • 6.3 Cable Onda/Telecarrier
      • 6.3.1 Advanced Communication Network (ACN)
    • 6.4 ClaroCOM (Galaxy Communications Corp)
    • 6.5 Optynex Telecom
    • 6.6 Movistar
  • 7. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 7.1 National telecom network
      • 7.1.1 Fixed-line statistics
    • 7.2 International infrastructure
      • 7.2.1 Interconnection with other Central American countries
      • 7.2.2 Submarine cable networks
      • 7.2.3 Satellite networks
    • 7.3 Infrastructure developments
      • 7.3.1 Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
  • 8. Wholesale
  • 9. Broadband market
    • 9.1 Introduction and statistical overview
      • 9.1.1 Broadband statistics
      • 9.1.2 Red Nacional de Internet (RNI)
    • 9.2 Forecasts – fixed broadband market 2018; 2020; 2022
    • 9.3 Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) networks
    • 9.4 Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
    • 9.5 G.fast
    • 9.6 Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP)
    • 9.7 WiMAX
  • 10. Digital economy
    • 10.1 eHealth
  • 11. Mobile market
    • 11.1 Market analysis
      • 11.1.1 Mobile statistics
      • 11.1.2 Mobile data
      • 11.1.3 Mobile broadband
    • 11.2 Forecasts – mobile market 2018; 2020; 2022
    • 11.3 Regulatory issues
      • 11.3.1 Spectrum auction – 2008
      • 11.3.2 New licence concession – 2013
      • 11.3.3 700MHz spectrum
      • 11.3.4 Infrastructure sharing
      • 11.3.5 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
    • 11.4 Mobile infrastructure
      • 11.4.1 Overview
      • 11.4.2 Third Generation (3G) mobile networks (UMTS)
      • 11.4.3 HSPA+
      • 11.4.4 Long-term Evolution (LTE)
      • 11.4.5 Satellite broadband
    • 11.5 Major mobile operators
      • 11.5.1 +Móvil (C&WP)
      • 11.5.2 Movistar (Telefónica)
      • 11.5.3 Digicel Panamá
      • 11.5.4 Claro Panamá (América Móvil)
  • 12. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Market penetration rates in Panama’s telecom sector – 2016 (e)
  • Table 2 – Country statistics Panama – 2016 (e)
  • Table 3 – Telephone network statistics – 2016 (e)
  • Table 4 – Internet user statistics – 2016 (e)
  • Table 5 – Broadband statistics – 2016 (e)
  • Table 6 – Mobile statistics – 2016 (e)
  • Table 7 – National telecommunications authority
  • Table 8 – Evolution of GDP in Panama – 2000 - 2017
  • Table 9 – Telecom market revenue – 2000 - 2016
  • Table 10 – Telecom market revenue by sector – 2007 - 2016
  • Table 11 – Telecom market revenue share by sector – 2013 - 2016
  • Table 12 – Fixed number portings – 2012 - 2015
  • Table 13 – Fixed-line call traffic by type – 2007 - 2015
  • Table 14 – Fixed-line and mobile voice traffic – 2010 - 2016
  • Table 15 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed-line subscribers – 2010 - 2017
  • Table 16 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed lines ARPU – 2007 – 2015
  • Table 17 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed-line revenue – 2009 – 2017
  • Table 18 – C&WP revenue – 2016 - 2017
  • Table 19 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1997 – 2009
  • Table 20 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2010 – 2018
  • Table 21 – Public telephones – 1998 - 2010
  • Table 22 – International bandwidth – 2008 - 2016
  • Table 23 – Historic - Internet users and user penetration rate – 1997 - 2009
  • Table 24 – Internet users and user penetration rate – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 25 – Dial-up/broadband market share – 1998 – 2012
  • Table 26 – Dial-up internet subscribers – 2007 – 2013
  • Table 27 – Historic - Broadband subscribers and penetration rates – 1998 - 2009
  • Table 28 – Broadband subscribers and penetration rates – 2010 - 2017
  • Table 29 – Broadband market share by technology – 2000 - 2017
  • Table 30 – Broadband subscribers, DSL and cable – 2001 - 2018
  • Table 31 – Forecast broadband growth –– 2018; 2020; 2022
  • Table 32 – Cable broadband subscribers - 2010 - 2018
  • Table 33 – C&WP – DSL subscribers - 2005 - 2017
  • Table 34 – DSL subscribers (regulator data) - 2010 - 2018
  • Table 35 – FttP subscribers - 2008 - 2018
  • Table 36 – Wi-Fi and WiMAX broadband subscribers – 2008 - 2017
  • Table 37 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1998 - 2009
  • Table 38 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 39 – Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio – 1998 - 2016
  • Table 40 – Mobile prepaid/postpaid subscribers – 2007 - 2016
  • Table 41 – Mobile outgoing traffic by type – 2007 - 2016
  • Table 42 – SMS traffic – 2007 - 2016
  • Table 43 – Mobile broadband subscribers – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 44 – Forecast mobile subscriber growth – 2018; 2020; 2022
  • Table 45 – Mobile number portings – 2011 - 2015
  • Table 46 – C&WP – mobile subscribers – 2005 – 2017
  • Chart 1 – Fixed-line and mobile voice traffic – 2010 – 2016
  • Chart 2 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed-line subscribers – 2010 – 2017
  • Chart 3 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed lines ARPU – 2007 – 2015
  • Chart 4 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed lines revenue – 2009 – 2017
  • Chart 5 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2002– 2018
  • Chart 6 – Internet users and user penetration rate – 2005 – 2018
  • Chart 7 – Broadband subscribers, DSL and cable – 2001 – 2018
  • Chart 8 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2002 – 2018
  • Exhibit 1 – Major submarine cable networks serving Panama
  • Exhibit 2 – BellSouth Panama/Telefónica Móviles Panamá – history

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