A global league table of mobile data costs. The average cost of one gigabyte (1GB) was calculated from over 5,600 mobile data plans worldwide.
Countries are colour-coded by the average price of one gigabyte (1GB) of mobile data. As you can see, this paints an interesting picture, with a wide range of countries where mobile data is cheapest, but with some of the most expensive found predominantly in the remote island nations of Africa and South America.
Hovering over an individual country will bring up its associated data. This includes country name, its ranking out of the 237 countries measured, its cheapest available 1GB of data, its most expensive 1GB of data, how many plans were measured to create the average, and on what day the snapshot was taken.
Unlike our measurements of worldwide broadband speed and worldwide broadband pricing, where lack of fixed-line infrastructure meant significant gaps, mobile data provision is near-ubiquitous. However, there are still some countries or territories where either no provision exists, there exists only 2G infrastructure, providing only calls and/or SMS texts, or the data simply isn't available. And there are countries and regions where problems with local currency do not allow for useful comparison.
This year's excluded countries are: Bulgaria, Wallis and Futuna, Christmas Island, Eritrea, North Korea, Pitcairn Islands, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, United States Minor Outlying Islands and Vatican City (Holy See).
Cable.co.uk also undertakes annual tracking studies covering the average speed of broadband in over 200 countries, and the cost of broadband packages in over 200 countries. In August of 2020, we also released an in-depth data set on how COVID-19 lockdown periods impacted global network speeds.
Here is a quick look at some of the highlights unearthed in the study.
With three-quarters of Israelis owning a smartphone, Israel boasts a higher smartphone market penetration than the United States of America. Multiple providers offer huge data allowances with extensive 4G LTE and 5G network coverage.
A dozen or so popular providers in Italy collectively offer some of the cheapest data in the world. 5G is now available to around 95% of the population, alongside ubiquitous 4G.
Despite being a remote island nation, Fiji has two mobile networks, both of which provide 4G and growing 5G coverage across the island, along with a broad range of large data deals.
Italy's tiny neighbour was the first European state to have a 5G network, established by Italian network TIM. San Marino benefits from 100% 5G coverage.
Here we take a closer look at the five most and least expensive countries in the world to buy 1GB of mobile data
The five most expensive countries in terms of the average cost of 1GB of mobile data are Zimbabwe (USD 43.75), the Falkland Islands (USD 40.58), Saint Helena (USD 40.13), South Sudan (USD 23.70) and Tokelau (USD 17.24).
The similarities between these five nations are both striking and obvious. Three of the five are located in Sub-Saharan Africa, and three of five are island nations. Sub-Saharan Africa is the fourth-most expensive region in the world for mobile data generally, while island nations also tend to be among the most expensive.
The five cheapest countries in terms of the average cost of 1GB of mobile data are Israel (USD 0.02), Italy (USD 0.09), Fiji (USD 0.09), San Marino (USD 0.10), and Cambodia (USD 0.12).
Conversely to the most expensive, only one of these countries is an island, and none of them are located in Sub-Saharan Africa. Italy offers the cheapest mobile data in Western Europe and also maintains the infrastructure in San Marino. Israel has been a global leader in the provision of 5G and continues to top the global table when it comes to the price of data as well.
Researchers uncovered four main country archetypes that go the greatest distance to explaining the expense, or lack of, mobile data across the globe. Note that many countries will be formed of a mixture of two or more of these.
Excellent infrastructure: Countries with long-established, ubiquitous 4G or new 5G infrastructure tend to fall towards the cheaper end of the table. This is due to the fact that their mobile data plans tend to offer considerably more data than the global median, caps usually in the hundreds of gigabytes, or even completely unlimited. The cost per gigabyte in these countries will tend therefore to be very low.
Heavy reliance: Countries with little to no fixed-line broadband availability therefore rely heavily on mobile data provision. In these cases, mobile data is the primary means the population has of getting online, and adoption is often near-ubiquitous. With a saturated market and many competing providers, often accompanied by a low average wage, data pricing in such countries can be exceptionally cheap when compared globally.
Small consumption: Countries where, although mobile data is widely available and widely used, the basic and/or overburdened infrastructure dictates a limited-use culture. In countries such as these, SIMs tend to be relatively cheap but predominantly available loaded with very small data amounts. In such countries, amounts of 2-5MB and with single-day expiries are not uncommon. When multiplying such small quantities to figure out the cost of a gigabyte, then, such countries tended to find themselves at the most expensive end of the table.
Wealthy economy: Wealthy nations tend to have good mobile infrastructure, decently-sized data caps and relatively healthy markets. Since populations can afford to pay more, and network infrastructure costs that much more to own and run, and provided they haven't reached the 'excellent infrastructure' category where data limits are beyond normal usage or entirely unlimited, data pricing tends towards the global average.
Here we take a quick look at which countries have done the best and worst at making mobile data cheaper since 2019, when this tracking study began.
Minus figures are better. For example, -99.17% means prices per 1GB have dropped by 99.17% since 2019. Plus figures are worse and represent increases in the cost of 1GB.
When it comes to the most improved between 2019 and 2023, those countries which have offered many multiples the amount of data they once did, but for similar money, have fared the best, with all five of the most improved splitting hairs with 97%+ cheaper pricing per GB.
Conversely, only a handful of countries have actually seen data prices rising across the last five sample years, each with a unique reason for such a rise to occur. Syria's descent into war, for example, or large fluctuations between the local currency and the American dollar.
Here we take a closer look at how pricing is averaged in thirteen global regions, and talk a little about the current state of each with regard to mobile data and pricing.
All but two of the seven North African countries are in the cheapest half of the table. Western Sahara is the cheapest at USD 0.58, and the most expensive in the region is Mauritania (USD 1.32). All countries in this region are cheaper than the global average of USD 2.59. Northern Africa is the cheapest region in the world overall.
Asian nations make up a significant portion of the top 20 cheapest countries for mobile data. Cambodia and Pakistan offer the most affordable rates at just USD 0.12 per 1GB, followed by India at USD 0.16 and India at USD 0.16. These countries rank among the top ten globally for the lowest mobile data prices. Only three Asian countries exceed the global average of USD 2.59 per 1GB – Japan (USD 3.48), British Indian Ocean Territory (USD 4.44), and South Korea, which stands as the most expensive in the region at USD 5.01 per 1GB.
Within Eastern Europe, Moldova (USD 0.28) is the cheapest, followed by Montenegro (USD 0.32), Poland (USD 0.37), and Romania (USD 0.54). The Czech Republic is the most expensive in the region, with 1GB of data costing USD 3.12 on average.
The cheapest mobile data plans in Central America can be found in Nicaragua, where 1GB of data costs USD 0.55 on average, and Honduras (USD 0.78). Prices are somewhat steeper in El Salvador (USD 1.08) and Guatemala (USD 1.17). The most expensive country in Central America is Belize, where an average 1GB costs USD 2.92.
A number of CIS countries are among the very cheapest in the world for mobile data and all but four sit inside the less expensive half of the table. Kyrgyzstan is cheapest in the region with an average of USD 0.17, and also eighth-cheapest in the world. At the bottom of the regional table is Turkmenistan (USD 11.42), which is also the seventh most expensive in the world.
Estonia is the cheapest of the three with 1GB costing an average of USD 1.15 and sits in 107th place in the world, while in Lithuania 1GB costs USD 1.26 on average. Latvia sits in the most expensive half of the table with an average of USD 3.21, and is the only country in the regioj whose pricing is greater than the global average of USD 2.59.
The cheapest mobile data in Western Europe is in Italy – in second place globally – where the average price of 1GB is just USD 0.09. San Marino (USD 0.10) is the second-cheapest in Western Europe, followed by France (USD 0.20) and Monaco (USD 0.42). The UK (USD 0.62) is the 8th cheapest in Western Europe, and 58th cheapest in the world.
Most Caribbean nations are in the more expensive half of the list but the difference between the most expensive and the cheapest is extreme. The Cayman Islands are the most expensive in the Caribbean with an average of USD 8.39, while an average 1GB in the cheapest country – Haiti – is 38 times cheaper at USD 0.22.
Israel is the cheapest country in the Near East region and also the cheapest in the world, with 1GB costing an average of USD 0.02. Turkey (USD 0.44) is a distant second-cheapest, closely followed by Kuwait (USD 0.52) and Syria (USD 0.67). The most expensive mobile data in the region can be found in Yemen, where the average price of 1GB is USD 15.68.
Sub-Saharan Africa has just six countries among the top 50 cheapest in the world – Malawi, in 29th place globally, is cheapest in the region at USD 0.38. The region also has five out of the ten most expensive countries in the world, with Zimbabwe being the most expensive in the region and in the world (USD 43.75), followed by Saint Helena (USD 40.13), South Sudan (23.70), the Central African Republic (USD 10.90) and Zambia (USD 8.01) all at the bottom of the table.
The average 1GB of data costs USD 0.09 in Fiji, making it the cheapest country in Oceania, and the 3rd cheapest in the world. The region's island nations are mostly in the more expensive half of the table, with Tokelau being the most expensive at USD 17.24. Samoa comes in at second cheapest in the region at USD 0.36, with New Zealand a long way behind – 18th in the region with an average 1GB cost of USD 5.89.
Colombia, with an average of USD 0.20, Uruguay (USD 0.28), Brazil (USD 0.51), Peru (USD 0.45) and French Guiana (USD 0.49) are the only South American countries to make it into the top 50 cheapest in the world. The most expensive in the region is the Falkland Islands at USD 40.58 – it is also the second most expensive in the world.
The average price of 1GB of mobile data in all four North American countries exceeds the global average of USD 2.59, making it the most expensive region overall. Bermuda is the cheapest country in the region with an average cost of USD 3.42, and the most expensive is the United States (USD 6.00).
Tracking mobile data pricing in over 200 countries and territories across multiple 12-month periods has allowed us to generate an overall average price of 1GB of data for the globe, and to see how this number changes over time. The good news is that the global cost of data continues to fall rapidly.
|Year||Average global cost of 1GB of mobile data in USD||% Change|
Downloadable versions of the data set (.xls), the original press release and the research methodology (.pdf)
The full data set can be downloaded here.
If you wish to see the original press release for this research, you can download it here as a PDF.
Our research methodology and notes on how to interpret the data can be downloaded here as a PDF.
|Rank||Country||Average price of 1GB (USD)|
|14||Lao People's Democratic Republic||0.25|
|23||Trinidad and Tobago||0.32|
|49||Congo (Democratic Republic of)||0.52|
|56||Turks and Caicos Islands||0.59|
|81||Saint Barthélemy (St. Barts)||0.80|
|93||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1.03|
|96||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||1.05|
|98||St. Pierre and Miquelon||1.07|
|101||Palestine, State of||1.08|
|123||Papua New Guinea||1.36|
|125||Isle of Man||1.44|
|132||Saint Kitts and Nevis||1.54|
|175||São Tomé and Príncipe||2.41|
|181||Northern Mariana Islands||2.67|
|191||Cocos (Keeling) Islands||3.03|
|196||Antigua and Barbuda||3.20|
|208||Virgin Islands (U.S.)||4.33|
|209||British Indian Ocean Territory||4.44|
|211||United Arab Emirates||4.61|
|215||Virgin Islands (British)||5.24|
|225||Micronesia (Federated States of)||7.11|
|229||Svalbard and Jan Mayen||9.00|
|230||Central African Republic||10.90|
*Note: Where values are identical, ranking is decided by next decimal place, not shown here. To see these results to greater than two decimal places, please download the raw data set.