Panamanian telecommunications overview
In 1997, Cable & Wireless bought 49% of INTEL, leaving 51% to the government. In 2003, the telecommunications market was opened to other companies, ending Cable & Wireless' monopoly on the market. However, Cable & Wireless remains the main phone provider in Panama. The privatization and de-regulation process was thoroughly overseen by the government.
Nonetheless, many people still complain about prices, quality of service and believe that it takes too long to set up a new line in remote areas.
Overall, telecommunication infrastructures have significantly improved in Panama the last few years. Now, Panama has one of the best submarine optical fibre connection infrastructures in Latin America.
Telephone in Panama
The international access code for Panama is +507. All calls within Panama are considered local, so aside from those first digits, there are no area codes and no long distance calls. All Panamanian fixed telephone lines have 7 digits, whereas cell phone numbers have 8 digits and start with 6.
Call plans change on a regular basis so to have a precise idea of the prices you should go to the websites of the main providers, which are:
- Cable & Wireless (www.cwpanama.net/)
- Movistar (www.movistar.com.pa/)
- Claro com (www.claro.com.pa/)
It usually takes between 4 to 6 days to have a telephone line installed, depending on the provider. As a foreigner, you will be required to provide a copy of your passport plus two references to enter a contract with a telephone provider and request installation. The installation fee depends on the current offers.
In Panama, there are many ways to pay your bills. Most providers allow online payments. You can also allow them to make a monthly direct debit charge on your credit card, or if you prefer you can go to a bank or a store to pay your bill.
Important Telephone Numbers:
In Panama, you can call emergency services, such as the police, fire brigade or ambulance by dialling 911.
The following numbers are also useful:
- Directory assistance - 102
- Ambulance - 103
- Firemen - 103
- Police - 104
Another useful contact is Panama Tourism (IPAT) in Panama City: +507 226 7000 or www.ipat.gob.pa