Ekspresa Blog Articles

LTE coverage in western Panama – La Chorrera / Arraiján

Continuing with our LTE coverage evaluation posts, this week we present the results of the Drive Tests carried out by the Ekspresa team in the towns of La Chorrera and Arraiján. The signal intensity and coverage levels of the operators  Cable & WirelessClaroDigicel and Tigo.

All measurements were collected using Celplan’s CellWireless multi-technology scanner solution.

The analysis that we will present in this article is based on the signal levels (RSRP and CINR) of the LTE cells measured with an RF scanner (see this link to find out why we recommend using a scanner instead of a phone). Measuring these indicators is the first step in evaluating and comparing the coverage footprint of mobile network operators.

While these measurements are valuable and relevant, they do not provide a complete picture of the users’ experience on a mobile network. To perform a complete benchmarking of the quality of service of mobile operators, additional measurements are required using mobile terminals (typically smartphones) performing an extensive test protocol for voice and data services. Even though Ekspresa has extensive experience in this type of project, for this publication we limit ourselves only to measurements collected with the scanner.

LTE coverage evaluation methodology

For this study, a methodology similar to that carried out in previous posts was followed. In summary:

Results: Which operator has better LTE coverage in West Panama – La Chorrera / Arraiján?

“Panama Oeste” is one of the ten provinces of Panama, created on January 1, 2014 from segregated territories of the province of Panama located west of the Panama Canal. It is made up of 5 districts: Arraiján, Capira, Chame, La Chorrera and San Carlos. Its capital is La Chorrera.

The population of West Panama is approximately 500 thousand inhabitants, Arraiján being the third district with the largest population in Panama. Both are considered primarily commuter towns.

In Fig. 1. a map is shown with the comparison of the four operators for the indicator “Coverage Level” described in the methodology. The map is interactive: you can select the metric to evaluate, change the frequency and / or zoom.

Fig. 1. LTE Coverage Levels for the 4 operators.

Performing a general analysis of the entire route, similar coverage levels are observed among operators, with a slight advantage for Tigo. In Fig. 2. we observe the results for the “Coverage Level” indicator described in the methodology. However, if we analyze specific areas, opportunities for improvement can be found for all operators. The main objective of a benchmarking is to compare strengths and weaknesses, in order to define actions accordingly.

Fig. 2. LTE Coverage level comparison for the four operators

Let’s examine the RSRP and CINR individually:

RSRP comparison

The following figure shows the RSRP statistics for the four operators, where it can be seen that all the operators have similar signal strength levels.

Fig. 3. RSRP level comparison > -100 dBm

If we raise the threshold to -80dBm, we appreciate that Claro and Digicel take a slight advantage. Having better RSRP levels favors indoor coverage.

Fig. 4. RSRP level comparison > -80 dBm

CINR comparison

Comparing the CINR, we can see that the Tigo operator has a greater number of samples above 10dB.

Fig 5.. Comparison of% of samples with CINR> 10 dB

There are multiple reasons that can affect the level of interference in an LTE network. Among these we have:


From our study we can conclude the following

We have prepared a PDF report with detailed maps by operator and channel. To access this information and the raw data (in plain text format) write to us at info@ekspresa.com or through our contact form to request access.