Panama’s National Assembly paves the way for mobile merger

11 May 2018

Panama’s Plenary of the National Assembly (El Pleno de la Asamblea Nacional) has approved the previously proposed Law No. 479, which repeals certain articles included within Law No. 5 from February 1995, as well as additional legislation from 1996, thus paving the way for consolidation between local mobile operators. First tabled in April 2017, the new bill was designed to help reduce the Panamanian mobile sector from four operators to three, in an effort to make better use of the country’s spectrum resources. According to the National Assembly website, Law No. 479 was finally approved late last month, following a third debate on the subject.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Panama is currently home to four mobile operators, namely: Telefonica-backed Movistar Panama; Cable & Wireless Panama (CWP), which is now owned by Liberty Latin America (LLA); Digicel Panama, a unit of Irish-owned pan-Caribbean operator Digicel Group; and Claro Panama, a subsidiary of Latin American mobile giant America Movil (AM). Law No. 479 has been strongly contested by the incumbent operators, and it remains to be seen which operator will be squeezed out of the market.