(PanamaInvestor) Panama has come a long way in a short time with telecommunication. Just a few short years ago getting internet in our neck of the woods was difficult and now it can be found just about everywhere in the country. This insiders article provides an excellent overview of the telecom status and where it is headed.
Shake up in Panamas Internet and mobile markets With one of the regions highest GDP growth forecast for 2010/11, the outlook is promising for Panamas telecom market. In 2010, telecom revenues are expected to exceed US$1 billion, with mobile services and broadband being the fastest growing sectors.
Panamas 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 countrys 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 Panam 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 Panam began operations in late 2008, and Amrica Mvils Claro in early 2009. Previously, Panamas mobile market had been a duopoly between Cable & Wireless Panam and Telefnicas Movistar.
Internet penetration is expected to grow substantially in 2010/11 thanks to the governments 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 government project, dubbed National Internet Network or Internet for All, may partly reduce the need for people to buy fixed or mobile broadband accounts, and could push providers into improving their broadband service.
However, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli made a point of emphasising that 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. He stressed that the network offers basic Internet access only, with a speed limit of 256Kb/s in the first phase and the option to go up to 512Kb/s in the future.
Market highlights: – Mobile number portability is to be implemented in Panama by March 2011.
– In November 2009, Cable Onda took over fixed-line company Telecarrier, thus improving its position in the fixed-line market.
– The Internet for All or RNI project was implemented in two phases: the first phase was completed in January 2010, and the second phase in April 2010.
– The RNI network provides coverage to 22 of the most important cities in Panama, where the vast majority of the population lives.
– Three companies offer mobile broadband services over UMTS (WCDMA) networks: Movistar, Claro, and Cable & Wireless Panam.
– In December 2009, Cable & Wireless Panam entered the pay TV sector, heavily dominated by Cable Onda.
– The Panamanian government adopted the DVB standard for digital terrestrial TV in May 2009, and several channels launched digital terrestrial TV trials in the first half of 2010.
The report covers trends and developments in the fixed-line, mobile, Internet, broadband, and pay TV markets. Subjects include: – Market and industry analyses, trends and developments; – Facts, figures, and statistics; – Government policies and regulatory issues; – Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband); – Infrastructure development; – 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 the years 2015 and 2020.