The Unbridled Pragmatist
smart enough to know how dumb we are

Panama Phone Jack

Why did I pick Panama?  Primarily selfish reasons; if all goes according to plan I will spend Spring Break ’08 sailing through the Panama Canal and when told to research a foreign countries internet habits Panama was the first country that popped into my head.  Considered a third world country, Panama is also in the midst of an influx of American cash; retirees moving south to live in a tropical climate on a dollar based economy.  No exchange rates, relatively low crime, and low cost of living make the isthmus a hot destination for baby boomers looking to stretch their dollar.

What does this mean for Panamanian internet access?  The influx of cash, along with loosening government regulations, has certainly increased access.  According to Internet World Stats in 2000 only 45,000 people, just 1.6% of the population were considered an internet user.  By 2007 that number had risen to 300,000, nearly 10% of the population. 

With an indigenous population that prefers seclusion from modernity, lack of electricity is common in central mountain regions, these numbers reflect tremendous growth.  Further since the government opened up the telecom market in 2003, ending the monopoly previously held by Cable & Wireless Panama, numerous competitors have arisen and the price of access has dropped while the availability has increased.

 

In accordance to accessing the citizenry to the internet, blogs have sprouted throughout Panama.  There are the typical expat living in Panama style blogs, which often appear to have shifty real estate sales angle to them.  However there is also a directory of Panama blogs, unfortunately I slept through too many of my high school Spanish classes to read any of them.  There are twenty topics to choose from and countless blogs to read.

 

In 2001 mobile phones overtook land line phones as the most popular and those numbers continue to inversely grow.  Further, the advent and popularization of phone cards has transformed a previously expensive and exclusive ability to call internationally from the bourgeoisie to the masses.

 

Unfortunately there is a lack of information regarding the monitoring and censoring of websites and internet content.  The government is democratic and considered to be one of the most stable in Central America, and recent deregulation of the telecom industry would lend to beliefs that the internet is as open as the rest of the free world.  Hopefully I can tell you more next March, I can’t go too long without checking Deadspin.

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