Panama to auction cellular licences by March 2008


Panama will auction two new wireless licences at a minimum price of USD36 million each, in a bid to increase competition and encourage lower prices, writes Reuters citing a government statement. Michael Mihalitsianos, the director of the National Authority for Public Services (ASEP), said the two new concessions will be awarded in March 2008, after a pre-qualification period, which is already underway. He said around half a dozen companies had expressed interest in the 20-year licences, including Mexico's America Movil, Iusacell, France Telecom’s Orange, Digicel and local cable company Cable Onda. Mihalitsianos declined to say whether the incumbent cellcos Cable & Wireless and Telefonica would be permitted to bid for the new licences, or whether companies would be able to compete for more than one licence.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, at the end of June 2007 there were around two million wireless users in Panama, with C&W accounting for 58% of the base and Telefonica the remainder.