After privatization in 1998, the telecommunications sector in Panama has shown strong growth. Cable & Wireless (a British company) acquired the operation of the national utility. Cable & Wireless improved and expanded a number of services, digitalized all switching stations and upgrading transmission lines to the latest technology. Additionally, four cellular companies are now operating in Panama: Cable & Wireless (England), Telefonica (Spain), Claro (Mexico), and Digicel (Ireland). There are over 500,000 fixed telephone lines in the country and over 5 million cellular lines, giving Panama one of the highest teledensity rates in Latin America. Main competitors in the market are the United Kingdom, Japan, Sweden, France and Canada.
Sub- Sector Best Prospects
Best products are PABX systems, radio trunking systems, satellite-based telecommunications facilities, wireless systems and fiber optics cable.
The competition in the cellular telephony sector opened new opportunities for U.S. exporters of equipment such as towers and a variety of supporting equipment. Additionally, Cable & Wireless and other companies that recently entered the market continue to modernize the fixed telephone system thus bringing opportunities for exporters of switching equipment, handsets, and a full range of equipment and accessories.
The Government of Panama has embarked upon an expansion of wireless internet access to the general population across the nation. Additionally, there is an ongoing government effort to modernize the telecommunications services in the different public organizations, including hospitals, financial entities, and public universities.