UK fares poorly in global mobile data cost survey

Posted on March 8, 2019


With most internet browsing now done on mobile devices, and some experts believing 5G will render traditional home broadband obsolete, it seems clear that mobile is both the present and future of the internet. However, a new global study suggests that UK mobile data users are getting disappointing value for money.

Research from broadband provider Cable looked at more than 6,000 mobile data packages from across 230 countries, ranking them in order of average price per gigabyte of mobile data in US dollars – the current conversion rate is about $1.30 to the pound.

The UK came in 136th place, putting it in the bottom half within both Europe and the world. The average cost per gigabyte here is $6.66, although the study does record that the cheapest deal found in the UK is one with a per-gigabyte fee of just $0.26.

The UK average is some way behind that of neighbouring Ireland, which came 87th with a $3.95 average. The cheapest deals in Europe are in Ukraine, averaging at $0.51 to put it in fourth place globally, and other strong showings were put in by Russia (12th), Finland (14th), Poland (21st), Denmark (22nd), Italy (31st) and Australia (36th).

Overall though, the continent for cheap mobile deals is Asia. India comes top with an average cost of $0.26 per gigabyte, or just $0.02 for the cheapest package. Second-placed Kyrgyzstan’s average was just one cent higher, and Kazakhstan (3rd), Sri Lanka (7th), Mongolia (8th) and Myanmar (9th) are other Asian representatives in the top 10.

At the other end of the scale, Africa has to deal with not only some of the most heavily censored internet, but also some of the most expensive mobile data deals. The average price in last-placed Zimbabwe is $75.20 per gigabyte.

While the UK’s performance is nothing to boast about, there are developed nations offering worse value for money. An average fee of $12.37 per gigabyte sees the US languish in 182nd place, with Canada only marginally better than its neighbour in 179th. There are some very poor showings in Europe too, with Greece not far from the bottom in 224th, and Switzerland (212th) and Portugal (195th) also among the world’s most expensive countries for mobile data.

Although some patterns can be seen in terms of which continents are offering the best value, the interactive map shows that there are expensive and inexpensive countries in all of them. Though home to the cheapest countries, Asia also includes expensive ones like China (165th), South Korea (201st) and Turkmenistan (211th). Perhaps the starkest contrast of all is neighbouring African countries Sudan and Chad, which are 6th and 217th in the rankings respectively.

This suggests that perhaps politics and investment in telecommunication infrastructure are more influential in determining mobile data prices than geography, although Cable’s Consumer Telecoms Analyst Dan Howdle does note that a low economy plays an important role. Post-Brexit, the UK will perhaps need to look at nations like Finland and Denmark, which maintain a strong economy, yet keep mobile data costs low.

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.
John Murray
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