In the News from Panama

Free Wi-Fi Network Expands in Panama City

Good news for Panama City commuters. The city is rolling out free Wi-Fi at 50 public transportation stops around the city, as the city upgrades its technology infrastructure.

The new service, dubbed Smart City, helps establish Panama City as a technology leader in the region. The infrastructure has been installed around the city in bus stations and other high-traffic areas, using state-of-the-art “small cell” technology.

The smaller antennas allow the network to easily connect with the cellular network, provide better speeds and avoid the need for unattractive cell towers, according to coverage in La Estrella. Small cell networks are growing in popularity and changing the cost structure for establishing Internet networks.

To start, people will be able to use up to 3 MB for free in the new network, developed in conjunction with French multinational JCDecaux and the wireless internet company WIGO. The service will have a range of about seven meters (and adult content will be banned), according to a city announcement.

On one level, the network is simply adding a new layer of convenience. But easy access to the Internet is also becoming an important of the livability of a city. It makes it easier to get around, gather information and do business, and an expanding free network reinforces Panama City’s role as the technology leader in the region.