Country Listing

Nicaragua Table of Contents



Nicaragua's telecommunications system, like the rest of its infrastructure, is outdated and suffers from lack of maintenance. The backbone of the telecommunications system is the Central American Microwave System (CAMS), a 960-channel radio-relay system that extends from Mexico to Panama. Low-capacity radiorelay and wire lines branch off the CAMS to provide service to smaller towns. In 1993 there were approximately 60,000 telephones, only 1.5 per 100 inhabitants. Although the number of telephones increased by about 10 percent per year during the 1970s, that increased number did not begin to meet demand. Few telephones have been installed since 1979.

When the CAMS was installed in the 1970s, planners envisioned that all international telecommunications would travel along the CAMS to satellite ground stations in Guatemala and Panama. However, planners of the system failed to take political realities into account. Whenever disputes arose among the countries of Central America, a common tactic was for one government to shut down the CAMS "for maintenance," effectively isolating the other four countries on the isthmus from the outside world. Each country in Central America then built its own satellite ground station in the 1980s to assure continuous communications. In 1993 Nicaragua had two satellite ground stations, one operating with the International Telecommunications Satellite Corporation's (Intelsat) Atlantic Ocean satellite and the other a part of the former Soviet Union's Intersputnik system.

Radio broadcast services reach all parts of the country and include forty-five mostly privately owned amplitude modulation (AM) medium-wave stations and three AM shortwave stations for broadcasts to remote areas in the Caribbean lowlands. Managua also has eleven frequency modulation (FM) radio stations. Eight towns have television stations. In 1993 there were approximately 880,000 radio receivers and 210,000 television sets.

Data as of December 1993