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Internet in Panama

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Written by Matt   
Tuesday, 17 November 2009 16:28
Internet in Panama always struck me as the kind of thing that, pharmacy without regular phone calls to your provider, would cease to function properly and leave you with no choice but to search aimlessly for some lucky dope around the corner who's non-password-protected signal was, salve at the very least, a bit stronger than your own. The service itself is what's unsettling. People wait days, if not weeks, for a team of technicians to arrive, this after sitting through a delusional interchange with someone in a call center who often attempts to solve the problem right there on the spot. "OK, sir, I'd like to ask you a few questions. Open your internet browser. OK, now, does it seem to be working?" My feelings on Panama internet changed when we enlisted the help of PaNETma, a new provider in the Republic. Referred by a friend, I stumbled across their ridiculously simple website sometime last August and decided to give it a try recently when the office internet went out and we were asked to wait nine days for repair. At that point, choosing another company was more or less a shot in the dark. But with a prompt response and an installation date set, things appeared to be looking up.

One press release too long ago, the Panamanian government announced that, when they were finished, free wireless internet would be available everywhere, even in the most rural parts of the country. In Panama, this is like a nightclub promising an open bar in that you know there will be some fine print details and chances are, although some people somewhere might benefit, the big picture might end up lacking. Seeing as internet service in Panama is incredibly unreliable to begin with, it was an optimistic project in theory. But so too are tandem bikes. How many of those do you see riding around the streets?

I was reminded of Panamanian optimism when, on the tail end of a flight from Newark into Tocumen, I read an article in one of those generic airline-sponsored magazines called something like Airwaves or Impressions. It was about a charity program funded by the Panamanian government intended to eradicate poverty by way of nature and the feature image was of a tour guide in a polo and khakis with a large colorful bird on her shoulder. She was standing in Gamboa rainforest affront a group of about twenty kids in tattered clothes, and while my Spanish isn't great, I remember the article explaining how, through the wonders of the toucan, the poor kids would get a new lease on life. At the end, one of the kids was quoted saying, "the nature...is nice." Here was an example of incredible Panamanian optimism coupled with the belief that a few hours in nature can cure anything.

When the team from PaNETma came in to install their system in our office, their procedures were almost chorally in sync. Buzzing around with cables and ladders, they wore the concentration of lemmings. That is, until a small glitch evoked a troubleshooting session during which one of them looked at the newly mounted router that hadn't yet started blinking and said "Dah." I didn't know if it was a word in Spanish or just a sound. "Dah, dah."

Now several weeks into our new internet, things couldn't be better. The most comforting feeling is knowing that, in a country of fly-by-night repairmen and defective service providers, the guys from PaNETma are really only one call away. The best analogy I can think of is to compare them to a team of Life Support technicians. Call and suggest you're internet signal has issues (which it never does), and they rush with lethal urgency. This has not happened yet but I like to imagine them arriving in lab coats with briefcases. Dah, I've recently decided, is Spanish for "watch carefully, and do what we do."
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Whether I'd rave so much about a service like this at home, I don't know. But in Panama, by way of comparison, it sits above and beyond the norm, which is a delight to foreigners who expect the best. I found myself recently saying the same thing about a cleaning lady who actually showed up on time. "No, really," I said. "Sometimes she even comes early. It's unreal!" Alas these are the expectations some are reduced to in the developing world. Expecting the very least, then being delighted if not downright shocked, when something unusually good arrives at our door.
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Panama-aah.blogspot.com
written by Psych Sykes , November 18, 2009
I haven't had any problems with our internet while in Panama. Only once and that's much less then the problems I had living in Boston. So that's good I guess. smilies/shocked.gif)
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Panetma is the answer
written by Mike B , December 03, 2009
You found internet Valhalla in Panama. Tried them all. Only Panetma is a true internet provider anything close to gringo standard. Congrats and lets all spread the word.
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Panetma
written by rock , January 11, 2010
But Panetma is roughly TWICE the cost of C&W or Cableonda, no?
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actually, PaNETma costs less
written by RK , January 13, 2010
rock, if you consider value, PaNETma costs less than C&W or Cable Onda.

Here is a basic analogy.
C&W sells 5 cookies for $5.
PaNETma sells 15 better tasting cookies for $8.
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not to mention
written by Miguel Estrada , January 13, 2010
who in their right mind wouldn't rather pay a little more for a quality product? cable and wireless are idiots when it comes to responding to internet issues. the extra money is worth not waiting alone.
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Expensive is a relative term
written by Jaime , March 25, 2011
I have been using PaNetMa for my Internet for almost 2 years now. Before that, I was for several years with Cable & Wireless (2002-2009), and before that, with Cable Onda (in 2001-2002). The thing with any of those companies is that, whenever you have an issue with your service, it's a pain to first deal with the worthless guys at the call center, and then have to wait days for a technician to arrive and check the issue. For me, that's a huge problem because Internet is a necessary tool in my office (and home), not a luxury. So, when I started to hear the good reviews of PaNetMa in 2009, I gave them a try, and I must say there's no promotion of either Cable Onda or C&W that would have me switch bak, not even if they gave me the service for free. PaNetMa's service is truly reliable as I have not had with any of the other companies, and whenever you run into an issue, you call the guys and they get into the situation a.s.a.p., and the problem takes minutes or, in the worst case, hours to be solved, not days or weeks. For me, that's much more important than saving a few bucks per month. So, although PaNetMa's service is not cheap, in the end it's more expensive for me to have a cheap but unreliable service. After all, as they say, you get what you pay for. I recommend PaNetMa with my eyes closed.
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...
written by John@Broadband , March 14, 2012
Internet is widely available throughout Panama. However, there are varying levels of service, and some areas receive a slow connection speed, if they even have access at all. In Panama there are various companies that provide Internet service throughout the country, for personal use or business.
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Rain
written by SteveF , June 07, 2012
How does this service work in the rain?
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The best
written by Shirly Cohen , January 28, 2016
I'm still using Panetma and they have great service.
im getting calls from cable onda & cable & wireless - they are offering half price for higher speed but i will NOT replace Panetma.
Roman is amazing, always helping out, easy to reach...also the other technical staff and just great.
maybe the old good service i got in Panama
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Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 November 2009 16:29
 
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