Panama - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Telefónica sells in Panama unit to Millicom International

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.

Other significant changes to the market include Millicom International having acquired the main cable TV provider Cable Onda for $1 billion at the end of 2018, and its acquisition in February 2019 of Telefónica’s businesses in Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua for $1.7 billion.

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. Legislation adopted in early 2018 allowed for market consolidation and the reduction of the market to three players, aimed at making more efficient use of available spectrum. Although the number of players remains the same, Tigo Panama has expanded into the fixed and mobile segment by acquiring Movistar.

Internet penetration has grown in recent years and is expected to do so steadily further into 2019 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:

  • Telefónica Group sells its Panamanian unit to Millicom International;
  • Digicel Panama secures 700MHz spectrum licence, completes $100 million investment program, launches LTE services;
  • Millicom International acquires Cable Onda for $1 billion;
  • South America Pacific Link cable soon to be ready for service, 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;
  • C&WP contracts Ericsson to develop VoLTE and Wi-Fi Calling services;
  • C&WP trials G-fast technology with Huawei;
  • Broadband for Central America project to close digital divide by 2020;
  • Report update includes the regulator's market data to December 2018, operator data to Q1 2019, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

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

Table of Contents

  • Key statistics

  • Country overview

  • Telecommunications market

    • Historical overview
    • Market analysis
    • Telecom Maturity Index by tier
      • Top-tier – Market Leaders
      • Middle-tier – Market Challengers
      • Bottom-tier – Market Emergents
      • South America Telecom Maturity Index
      • Central America Telecom Maturity Index
    • TMI versus GDP
    • Mobile and mobile broadband penetration
    • Fixed and mobile broadband penetration
  • Regulatory environment

    • Regulatory authorities
      • ASEP
      • ACODECO
    • Privatisation of INTEL
    • Telecom sector liberalisation
    • Interconnect
    • Number Portability (NP)
  • Fixed network operators

    • Overview
    • Cable & Wireless Panamá
    • Cable Onda/Telecarrier
      • Advanced Communication Network (ACN)
    • ClaroCOM (Galaxy Communications Corp)
    • Optynex Telecom
    • Movistar
  • Telecommunications infrastructure

    • National telecom network
      • Fixed-line statistics
    • International infrastructure
      • Interconnection with other Central American countries
      • Submarine cable networks
      • Satellite networks
    • Infrastructure developments
      • Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
    • Wholesale
  • Broadband market

    • Introduction and statistical overview
      • Broadband statistics
      • Red Nacional de Internet (RNI)
    • Forecasts – fixed broadband market 2019; 2021; 2023
    • Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) networks
    • Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
    • G.fast
    • Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP)
    • WiMAX
    • Satellite broadband
  • Digital economy

    • eHealth
  • Mobile market

    • Market analysis
      • Mobile statistics
      • Mobile data
      • Mobile broadband
    • Forecasts – mobile market 2019; 2021; 2023
    • Regulatory issues
      • Spectrum auction – 2008
      • Licence concession – 2013
      • 700MHz spectrum
      • AWS spectrum
      • Infrastructure sharing
      • Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
    • Mobile infrastructure
      • 4G (LTE)
      • 3G
      • 2G
    • Major mobile operators
      • +Móvil (C&WP)
      • Movistar (Telefónica)
      • Digicel Panamá
      • Claro Panamá (América Móvil)
      • Tigo Panama
  • Related reports


List of Tables

  • Table 1 – Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities - Panama – 2018
  • Table 2 – Evolution of GDP in Panama – 2000 - 2018
  • Table 3 – Telecom market revenue and investment – 2000 - 2018
  • Table 4 – Telecom market revenue by sector – 2007 - 2018
  • Table 5 – Telecom market revenue share by sector – 2013 - 2018
  • Table 6 – Fixed number portings – 2012 - 2016
  • Table 7 – Fixed-line call traffic by type – 2007 - 2017
  • Table 8 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed-line subscribers – 2009 - 2018
  • Table 9 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed lines ARPU – 2007 – 2015
  • Table 10 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed-line revenue (old style) – 2009 – 2017
  • Table 11 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed-line revenue (new style) – 2017 – 2018
  • Table 12 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1997 – 2009
  • Table 13 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2010 – 2019
  • Table 14 – Public telephones – 1998 - 2017
  • Table 15 – International bandwidth – 2008 - 2016
  • Table 16 – Historic - Internet users and user penetration rate – 1997 - 2009
  • Table 17 – Internet users and user penetration rate – 2010 - 2019
  • Table 18 – Historic - Broadband subscribers and penetration rates – 1998 - 2009
  • Table 19 – Broadband subscribers and penetration rates – 2010 - 2019
  • Table 20 – Broadband market share by technology – 2000 - 2018
  • Table 21 – Broadband subscribers, DSL and cable – 2001 - 2018
  • Table 22 – Forecast broadband growth –– 2019; 2021; 2023
  • Table 23 – Cable broadband subscribers - 2010 - 2018
  • Table 24 – C&WP – DSL subscribers - 2005 - 2018
  • Table 25 – DSL subscribers (regulator data) - 2010 - 2018
  • Table 26 – FttP subscribers - 2008 - 2018
  • Table 27 – Wi-Fi and WiMAX broadband subscribers – 2008 - 2018
  • Table 28 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1998 - 2009
  • Table 29 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2010 - 2019
  • Table 30 – Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio – 1998 - 2017
  • Table 31 – Mobile prepaid/postpaid subscribers – 2007 - 2017
  • Table 32 – Mobile outgoing traffic by type – 2007 - 2017
  • Table 33 – SMS traffic – 2007 - 2016
  • Table 34 – Active mobile broadband subscribers – 2010 - 2019
  • Table 35 – Forecast mobile subscriber growth – 2019; 2021; 2023
  • Table 36 – Mobile number portings – 2011 - 2016
  • Table 37 – LTE mobile subscribers – 2016 – 2017
  • Table 38 – C&WP – mobile subscribers – 2005 – 2018
  • Table 39 – Tigo Panama mobile subscribers – 2018 – 2019
  • Table 40 – Tigo Panama financial data – 2018 – 2019

List of Charts

  • Chart 1 – Telecom market revenue by sector – 2007 – 2018
  • Chart 2 – Telecom market revenue share by sector – 2013 - 2018
  • Chart 3 – Latin America – Overall Telecoms Maturity Index
  • Chart 4 – Latin America Telecoms Maturity Index – Market Leaders Category
  • Chart 5 – Latin America Telecoms Maturity Index – Market Challengers Category
  • Chart 6 – Latin America Telecoms Maturity Index – Market Laggards Category
  • Chart 7 – South America –Telecoms Maturity Index by country
  • Chart 8 – Central America –Telecoms Maturity Index by country
  • Chart 9 – Latin America Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per Capita
  • Chart 10 – Latin America mobile subscriber penetration versus mobile broadband penetration
  • Chart 11 – Latin America fixed broadband penetration versus mobile broadband penetration
  • Chart 12 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed-line subscribers – 2009 – 2018
  • Chart 13 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed lines ARPU – 2007 – 2015
  • Chart 14 – C&WP mobile, broadband and fixed lines revenue – 2009 – 2017
  • Chart 15 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2002– 2019
  • Chart 16 – Internet users and user penetration rate – 2005 – 2019
  • Chart 17 – Broadband subscribers and penetration rates – 2005 – 2019
  • Chart 18 – Broadband subscribers, DSL and cable – 2001 – 2018
  • Chart 19 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2002 – 2019
  • Chart 20 – Mobile outgoing traffic by type – 2007 – 2017
  • Chart 21 – Active mobile broadband subscribers – 2010 - 2019

List of Exhibits

  • Exhibit 1 – Generalised Market Characteristics by Market Segment
  • Exhibit 2 – South America - Key Characteristics of Telecoms Markets by Country
  • Exhibit 3 – Central America - Key Characteristics of Telecoms Markets by Country
  • Exhibit 4 – Major submarine cable networks serving Panama

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As you know, I have resigned from the Labor Ministry and have decided not to re-contest the seat of Charlton at the next election – both for personal reasons.

Before leaving Parliament, I particularly wish to record my thanks to you for your generous and constructive participation in the deliberations that generated significant economic policy reforms for the Australian community. Continuous economic transformation is a key challenge that faces all Governments.

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