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July 26, 2022
A report lists Israel as having the cheapest mobile data plans in the world, while Saint Helena clocks in at the most expensive country to get online.
A survey carried out by Cable.co.uk analysed data from 5,292 mobile data plans in 233 countries, and has produced a ranking on the basis of how much 1GB of mobile data costs. In terms of the top and bottom placements, Israel is listed as the cheapest country with the average cost of 1GB at $0.04, while at the other end of the scale is Saint Helena where costs are over a thousand times more with an average price per 1GB of data clocking in at astonishing $41.06.
The UK comes in at a lukewarm 59th spot globally, with 1GB of mobile data costing an average of $0.79. Compared with other Western European Countries, there’s a bit of a gap between the best value countries with the average price of 1GB in Italy coming in at $0.12, $0.14 in San Marino, $0.23 in France and $0.40 in Monaco.
The average price in all four North American countries is in excess of the global average of $3.12, apparently, making it the most expensive region overall. Greenland is the cheapest country in the region with an average cost of $3.36 and the most expensive is Canada coming in at $5.94.
“Many of the cheapest countries in which to buy mobile data fall roughly into one of two categories,” said Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk. “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.
“At the more expensive end of the list, we have countries where often the infrastructure isn’t great but also where consumption is very small. People are often buying data packages of just a 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.”
You can read more of the granular details here, but perhaps more interesting than the exact ranking of countries in terms of price is the factors the report attributes to the fluctuations. The report identifies four main country ‘archetypes’ that it says can explain how cheap or expositive mobile data is across the globe.
To paraphrase the report, the ‘excellent infrastructure’ category identifies countries with long-established, ubiquitous 4G or new 5G infrastructure in which average costs can be lower because of the higher data packages that are on offer. ‘Heavy reliance’ refers to countries with little to no fixed-line broadband availability which therefore rely heavily on mobile data provision, meaning adoption is often near-ubiquitous and prices are lower due to many competing companies and as a reflection of lower than average wages.
The ‘Small consumption’ category refers to countries where basic and/or overburdened infrastructure dictates a limited-use culture. Within countries in this category sim cards loaded with 2-5MB and single-day expiries are not uncommon, and such small quantities contribute to the average price per 1MB being higher.
Finally there is the ‘wealthy economy’ category, which described countries with good mobile infrastructure, decently-sized data caps and relatively healthy markets. Something of an equilibrium occurs here since populations do have money, though network infrastructure costs more to own and run, so data pricing tends float towards the global average.
But the bottom line is, if you are in Saint Helena you might prefer a cheaper method of communication than the $41.06 average per 1GB – such as walkie talkies or building your own satellite facility from scratch.
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