Telecoms

How the world's mobile data prices compare

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Zimbabwe's average cost of 1GB of mobile data is 289 times the average cost in India, the cheapest country in the world.
Zimbabwe's average cost of 1GB of mobile data is 289 times the average cost in India, the cheapest country in the world.

Zimbabwe is the most expensive country in which to buy mobile data. This is according to a report by broadband market analyst firm Cable.co.uk, which analysed data from 6 313 mobile data plans in 230 countries between 23 October and 28 November 2018.

The average cost of one gigabyte (1GB) was then calculated and compared to form a worldwide mobile data pricing league table.

According to the firm, in Zimbabwe, the average cost of 1GB of mobile data during the period was $75.20, which is 289 times the average cost in India, which is the cheapest country in which to buy mobile data, with an average cost of 1GB at $0.26.

Cable ranks SA at number 143 out of 230 countries in regards to its mobile data prices. The average cost of 1GB of data in SA is $7.19 (R100).

Kyrgyzstan is a close second to India, with 1GB costing $0.27 on average. It's followed by fellow Commonwealth of Independent States (former USSR) countries Kazakhstan ($0.49) and Ukraine ($0.51) in third and fourth place, with Russia 12th on the list with an average 1GB cost of $0.91.

The cheapest mobile data in Western Europe is in Finland, where the average price of 1GB is $1.16. Monaco ($1.21) is the second cheapest in Western Europe followed by Denmark ($1.36) and Italy ($1.73). The UK ($6.66) is the 16th cheapest in Western Europe and 136th cheapest in the world.

Within Eastern Europe, Poland ($1.32) is the cheapest, followed by Romania ($1.89), Slovenia ($2.21) and Moldova ($2.82). Greece is the most expensive in the region, with 1GB of data costing $32.71 on average. Of the Baltic nations, Lithuania is the cheapest at $2.06.

Israel is the cheapest country in the Near East region, with 1GB costing an average of $0.90. Jordan ($1.79) is second on the list, closely followed by Kuwait ($2.01) and Palestine ($2.06).

The most expensive mobile data deals in the region can be found in Cyprus, where the average price of 1GB is $20.25.

Asian nations make up half of the top 20 cheapest countries for mobile data, with India top and Sri Lanka ($0.78), Mongolia ($0.82) and Myanmar ($0.87) also in the top 10. Only three Asian countries are more expensive than the global average of $8.53: Taiwan ($9.49), China ($9.89) and South Korea, the most expensive in the region at $15.12.

All North African countries are in the cheapest half of the table. Egypt is the cheapest in North Africa at $1.49 and even the most expensive in the region, Algeria ($5.15), is below the global average.

Infrastructure matters

Sub-Saharan Africa has three countries among the top 10 cheapest in the world: Rwanda ($0.56), Sudan ($0.68) and the Democratic Republic of Congo ($0.88).

The region also has four of the six most expensive countries on the list, with Zimbabwe joined by Equatorial Guinea ($65.83), Saint Helena ($55.47) and Djibouti ($37.92).

Commenting on the worldwide rankings, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk, says: "Many of the cheapest countries in which to buy mobile data fall roughly into one of two categories.

"Some have excellent mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure and so providers are able to offer large amounts of data, which brings down the price per gigabyte. Others with less advanced broadband networks are heavily reliant on mobile data and the economy dictates that prices must be low, as that's what people can afford."

Howdle says at the more expensive end of the list, there are countries where often the infrastructure is not great but also where consumption is very small.

"People are often buying data packages of just tens of megabytes at a time, making a gigabyte a relatively large and therefore expensive amount of data to buy. Many countries in the middle of the list have good infrastructure and competitive mobile markets, and while their prices aren't among the cheapest in the world, they wouldn't necessarily be considered expensive by its consumers."

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