Nearshore Americas

Central America ICT: Panama’s Broadband Blazes Past Regional Neighbors

Panama has made a leap ahead of other Central American countries in terms of the level of broadband competition and speed of access, helped in part by a utilities regulator – Asep – that has strived to introduce policies that meet market demands, Elias Vicente, senior analyst with Signals Telecoms Consulting, told BNamericas.

Panama has had fixed-line number portability in place for years and is due to introduce mobile line number portability before year-end, which will provide an additional stimulus for competitors to improve their service offerings to retain customers.

According to the analyst, Panama is head and shoulders above its neighbors with operators Cable & Wireless (C&W) and Cable Onda both offering speeds of over 5Mbps, while the majority of Central American operators do not offer speeds over 2Mbps.

Panamanian operators are also becoming competitive in Central America in packaging of services.

C&W’s introduction of a pay-TV service called +TV Digital fits with the company’s strategy to position itself as a provider of multi services and attempt to differentiate itself from pay-TV market leader Cable Onda, given the fact that C&W also has mobile telephony services.

Vicente believes that Cable Onda and Telecarrier, which merged last year, could be an acquisition target for large regional competitors like America Movil, which recently entered the Panamanian market with its Claro mobile brand and could add on Claro TV as it has done in other Central American markets.

The Telecarrier/Cable Onda offering could be attractive as it combines Telecarriers’ experience in telecoms services to the business segment and Cable Onda’s offering to residential customers, according to the analyst.

Spain’s Telefonica could also be an interested party, given that its Movistar mobile brand is well established in Panama.

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“It’s a possibility within the market. However, in the rest of Central America the operator has opted to deploy its own fixed-line networks, without acquiring other companies,” he said.

Signals has predicted that income from broadband and pay-TV services in Panama will total more than US$2.2bn from 2010-15.

Kirk Laughlin

Kirk Laughlin is an award-winning editor and subject expert in information technology and offshore BPO/ contact center strategies.

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