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Cell Phones in Panama – Reach Out and Touch Someone from Paradise

It’s the old marketing slogan from AT&T; reach out and touch someone.  Phone service that was once available only in your home now is available as you go about your daily routine thanks to cellular phones.  With that level of freedom, how would you like it if someone gave you the world or at least the Panama Canal?  Actually they have. 

You have traveled to Panama.  Maybe you are a business person who is involved in the Panama Canal project, a tourist who is enjoying the beach at Boca del Toro or someone who has retired to Panama to enjoy a relaxed life in Latin America.  How will you keep in touch?  Thanks to advances in cell phone service, you can have the contact that you desire.  Here is a FAQ list for you to consider:

  1. I am visiting the Panama.  Can I use my cell phone at the Panama Canal?  It is very likely that you can use your phone in Panama.  Panama’s cell service is provided through the older TDMA 800 and newer GSM 850 technologies.  If your company has a roaming agreement and uses either of these services, you can use your phone here.  It’s always best to call your cell phone provider before you travel.
  2. My country does allow roaming in Panama.  How do I make and receive calls?  Since you are roaming, you make calls the same way you would if you were at home.  If you want to call someone in Panama, you need to dial internationally. By the way, the country code for calling Panama is 507!
  3. I have a GSM 850 phone.  Can I use it in Panama?  If your phone has not been locked to your current network, you can use your phone.  Cell phones are very popular in Panama and there are many providers of prepaid and calling card services.  You can bring your phone and by using a SIM card from Panama, you will actually have local service here.  Also, the rates calling the US from Panama are much better than the other way around.
  4. I don’t have a GSM phone.  Is there a way for me to get temporary service in Panama?  Yes there is.  If you want to use your current provider, it is possible to rent a phone for short-term use.  Contact your local provider for details.  If you are already in Panama, contact a local provider such as Cell Rent – Cellular Phone Rent Service info@arangoarq.com  and ask about rental services.
  5. I’m not really comfortable with renting.  Are there any other options?  There is actually a great option to renting.  You can purchase cell phones in Panama without service agreements.  These phones range from $20.00 for basic models into the hundreds for models with all of the latest features.  The phone will have a Panama number and you can use a prepaid network to make your calls.  Phone cards are widely used in Panama; you can purchase them for as little as $1.00.  You simply call your new provider, enter your PIN and you will receive credit for the amount of your card.  Then just use your phone like any other; the company will send you text messages to notify you how much you have credit left.  When you need more, just purchase another card and do the same.  This is also a great feature for that person working on the Panama Canal; you have a local number to contact your contractors here and your incoming calls are free.  After you finish your work in Panama, you don’t have to worry about cancelling a contract because you don’t have one!
  6. How do I get set up in Panama?  For prepaid service, look for Movistar.  It is widely sold, not only in stores but there are many reputable dealers with kiosks on the street. (Don’t be afraid, this is a normal way of business in Panama!)  For calling cards, try Movistar, TeleChip or ClaroCom.  You can find these almost anywhere.  For contractual service:
    1. Cable & Wireless Panama - http://www.cwpanama.com.pa/cwp/index.asp
    2. Movistar Panama http://www.movistar.com.pa/
    3. TelCA Panama – Phone number (507) 263-4444

Whether you are a business person working the Panama Canal, a tourist or a retiree in Panama, you can stay in touch.  So reach out and touch someone from this tropical paradise with you cell phone; it’s easier than you think!


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