Panama - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

Panama’s mobile market likely to consolidate to three operators

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. In December 2017 Liberty Global created Liberty Latin America (LLA) to manage the company’s Latin American and Caribbean businesses. LLA has since expanded through acquisitions, including the purchase of an 80% stake in Cabletica (Costa Rica) in February 2018.

Telecom revenue climbed steadily for several years before falling back in 2016 and 2017. Mobile services and broadband remain the key sectors, a trend likely to continue in 2019 in the wake of operator investments in network upgrades.

Panama’s fixed-line teledensity is well below average for the region, and the number of lines continues to fall as customers adopt mobile-only solutions for making calls and for internet access.

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. The popularity of customers having multiple SIM cards pushed mobile penetration rates above 174% in 2014 this this has fallen back in response to measures aimed at removing dormant SIM cards and unregistered users. The arrival of Digicel Panamá in 2008 and América Móvil in 2009 ended the duopoly long enjoyed by Cable & Wireless Panamá and Telefónica’s Movistar and resulted in additional competition and steep price reductions. However, legislation adopted in early 2018 allows for market consolidation and the reduction of the market to three players, aimed at making more efficient use of available spectrum.

Internet penetration has grown in recent years and is expected to do so steadily further into 2017 because 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.

Key developments:

  • Digicel Panama secures 700MHz spectrum licence, completes $100 million investment program, launches LTE services;
  • Charges for number porting reduced;
  • 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;
  • Internet for All (RNI) project helping drive internet penetration;
  • Broadband for Central America project to close digital divide by 2020.
  • Report update includes the regulator’s market data to December 2017, operator data to Q2 2018, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

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

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 2019; 2021; 2023
    • 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
    • 9.8 Satellite broadband
  • 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 2019; 2021; 2023
    • 11.3 Regulatory issues
      • 11.3.1 Spectrum auction – 2008
      • 11.3.2 Licence concession – 2013
      • 11.3.3 700MHz spectrum
      • 11.3.4 AWS spectrum
      • 11.3.5 Infrastructure sharing
      • 11.3.6 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
    • 11.4 Mobile infrastructure
      • 11.4.1 4G (LTE)
      • 11.4.2 3G
      • 11.4.3 2G
    • 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 – Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities - Panama – 2018 (e)
  • Table 2 – Evolution of GDP in Panama – 2000 - 2018
  • Table 3 – Telecom market investment – 2012 - 2017
  • Table 4 – Telecom market revenue – 2000 - 2017
  • Table 5 – Telecom market revenue by sector – 2007 - 2017
  • Table 6 – Telecom market revenue share by sector – 2013 - 2017
  • Table 7 – Fixed number portings – 2012 - 2016
  • Table 8 – Fixed-line call traffic by type – 2007 - 2017
  • Table 9 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed-line subscribers – 2009 - 2018
  • Table 10 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed lines ARPU – 2007 – 2015
  • Table 11 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed-line revenue – 2009 – 2017
  • Table 12 – C&WP revenue – 2016 - 2017
  • Table 13 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1997 – 2009
  • Table 14 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2010 – 2018
  • Table 15 – Public telephones – 1998 - 2017
  • Table 16 – International bandwidth – 2008 - 2016
  • Table 17 – Historic - Internet users and user penetration rate – 1997 - 2009
  • Table 18 – Internet users and user penetration rate – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 19 – Dial-up/broadband market share – 1998 – 2012
  • Table 20 – Dial-up internet subscribers – 2007 – 2015
  • Table 21 – Historic - Broadband subscribers and penetration rates – 1998 - 2009
  • Table 22 – Broadband subscribers and penetration rates – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 23 – Broadband market share by technology – 2000 - 2017
  • Table 24 – Broadband subscribers, DSL and cable – 2001 - 2018
  • Table 25 – Forecast broadband growth –– 2019; 2021; 2023
  • Table 26 – Cable broadband subscribers - 2010 - 2018
  • Table 27 – C&WP – DSL subscribers - 2005 - 2018
  • Table 28 – DSL subscribers (regulator data) - 2010 - 2018
  • Table 29 – FttP subscribers - 2008 - 2018
  • Table 30 – Wi-Fi and WiMAX broadband subscribers – 2008 - 2017
  • Table 31 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1998 - 2009
  • Table 32 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 33 – Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio – 1998 - 2017
  • Table 34 – Mobile prepaid/postpaid subscribers – 2007 - 2017
  • Table 35 – Mobile outgoing traffic by type – 2007 - 2017
  • Table 36 – SMS traffic – 2007 - 2016
  • Table 37 – Active mobile broadband subscribers – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 38 – Forecast mobile subscriber growth – 2019; 2021; 2023
  • Table 39 – Mobile number portings – 2011 - 2016
  • Table 40 – LTE mobile subscribers – 2016 – 2017
  • Table 41 – C&WP – mobile subscribers – 2005 – 2018
  • Chart 1 – Telecom market revenue by sector – 2007 – 2017
  • Chart 2 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed-line subscribers – 2009 – 2018
  • 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 and penetration rates – 2005 – 2018
  • Chart 8 – Broadband subscribers, DSL and cable – 2001 – 2018
  • Chart 9 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2002 – 2018
  • Chart 10 – Mobile outgoing traffic by type – 2007 – 2017
  • Exhibit 1 – Major submarine cable networks serving Panama
  • Exhibit 2 – BellSouth Panama/Telefónica Móviles Panamá – history

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