Panama begins 5G tests

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By LatAm Reports Editorial Team

Armando Fuentes, administrator of the Public Services Authority, reported that a public consultation should be held to subsequently grant the final concession of the bands for the use of the 5G network to the two operators currently in the country. More Mobile begins its tests.

The first tests of the 5G network began this week after the National Public Services Authority (ASEP) loaned a part of the 3.5 GHz band spectrum to Cable & Wireless Panama’s More Mobile company to run this new technology that raises the connection speed.

Armando Fuentes, administrator of ASEP, explained that the temporary loan granting of this spectrum is not unusual, since it was also done in the pandemic to give greater capacity to telecommunications companies to expand the service due to the increase in connectivity in households for labour and education issues.

Fuentes clarified that just as more mobile was part of this spectrum to carry out its tests, the agency will also be able to have spectrum for the TIGO operator if required for the same purpose.

The law gives the regulator the power to loan mobile operators for up to four months the spectrum for free, on this occasion it has been done for two months and from there, if more time is required, it can take two more months,” Fuentes said at the MoveOn 2024 conference.
Panama begins tests of 5G, Asep grants time spectrum for network
ASEP administrator Armando Fuentes explained the scope of the telecommunications industry in Panama and announced the details of the 5G network deployment process. Courtesy.

He assured that spectrum allocation will be allocated to operators on an equal footing.

The administrator of ASEP specified that the commercial and official deployment of the 5G network is conditioned on the first of the regulatory body to hold a public consultation and then officially designate in granting the spectrum to each telephone and Internet operator in the country.

“This public consultation is being prepared for this same semester and that this same year the spectrum can be allocated for 5G to the operators,” Fuentes said. However, the current administration expires on 30 June, so that this issue will be up to the new Government.

The ASEP administrator admitted that the cost of spectrum in Panama is higher than in other Central American countries, but recently the decision was made to reduce that cost in some bands a little.

He stressed that the price to be paid by mobile telephony dealers for the right of use of low bands (700 MHz) and average bands (1427 to 1518 MHz) was set at $1.46 million and $1.21 million, which opens the way for the initial development of technologies for the subsequent deployment of the 5G network.

The manager of Más Móvil, Rocío Lorenzo, said that despite these new prices set for these bands by ASEP, they are still between 30% and 40% higher than in other markets in the region.

The next step in the public consultation that will be made we will have the opportunity to present our arguments on prices so that the 5G network can take off, the executive added.
Panama begins tests of 5G, Asep grants time spectrum for network
Rocío Lorenzo, general manager of More Mobile at Cable & Wireless Panama. Courtesy.

What’s the test like?

Meanwhile, the tests of the 5G network by Más Móvil will be for a period of two to three months with a pilot plan for some corporate users of the commercial, tourism and port sectors, revealed Rocío Lorenzo, general manager of the telecommunications company when making the announcement at the MoveON 2024 conference.

He also indicated that 5G infrastructure will be available in the Electoral Tribunal on election day on 5 May so that the media can use this network to transmit data and audiovisual information more quickly.

Lorenzo clarified that the test is only for the business area so no variation is expected in the prices of services, as this is not yet an official deployment.

He said they are investing $100 million in infrastructure and new technologies annually.
Panama begins tests of 5G, Asep grants time spectrum for network
Rocío Lorenzo and Roberto Mendoza de Más Móvil with the administrator of ASEP, Armando Fuentes. Katiuska Hernandez

What infrastructure will Panama use to deploy the 5G network?

The ASEP administrator clarified that for now the regulator will not limit companies on what infrastructure to use or not because the law does not provide for these powers, so any of the companies offering these equipment and ecosystems will be able to participate both in the trial period and later in the final concession with the operators.

The use of 5G infrastructure has been a controversial issue because the United States imposed restrictions on Huawei’s services and equipment and equipment, one of the leaders on this network, operate in that market.

In Central America Costa Rica closed the doors to Huawei, in Chile they did allow Huawei to participate and in Panama they are more open to the operation of the Chinese company.

In fact, the infrastructure partly used by Más Móvil in the test they conducted at the MoveOn event at the Megapolis Convention Center was operated with Huawei technology.

The general manager of Más Móvil specified that they have offers from three companies: Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia. In practice, two different infrastructure can be used according to the service and sector and even in areas but there is still nothing definitive.

We’re currently just in evidence. We are studying the proposals of the three suppliers for these 5G topics: Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson, Lorenzo confirmed.

What benefits does the 5G network bring and how will it work?

In the trial period the 5G connection that will enable More Mobile in controlled environments, i.e. in cases of commercial, tourism and port companies, will take the speed of the data up to 500 and 600 megabits (Mbps), which is an initial speed and not the commercial one, because the spectrum they will use temporarily is limited.

The main difference from the current LTE 4G network is that with 5G terminals data messages and the information sent will arrive faster. That means that when you send a data package from a terminal to a remote server with 5G it will arrive much faster. And the third advantage is that 5G will allow many more devices to be connected at the same time, which opens up great possibilities for the Internet of Things, explained Juan Vega, Director of Mobile Technology.