Highlights

Here is a quick look at some of the highlights unearthed in the study

  • India

    #1. India

    A country whose young population has a particularly high technological awareness, India offers a vibrant smartphone market, with strong adoption and many competitors. Data, therefore, is quite staggeringly cheap.

  • Israel

    #2. Israel

    With three-quarters of Israelis owning a smartphone, Israel boasts a higher smartphone market penetration than the United States of America. Multiple providers cover the majority of the country with fast 4G LTE.

  • Kyrgyzstan

    #3. Kyrgyzstan

    With minimal, albeit growing, fixed-line connectivity across the country, Kyrgyzstan relies heavily on mobile data provision. The Kyrgyzstani mobile sector is healthy, open, and welcoming of foreign investment.

  • Italy

    #4. Italy

    A dozen or so popular providers in Italy collectively offer some of the cheapest data in the world. 4G is ubiquitous in Italy, and it currently is in the process of rolling out an extensive 5G network.




  • Five most expensive countries in the world

    The five most expensive countries in terms of the average cost of 1GB of mobile data are São Tomé and Príncipe ($28.26), Bermuda ($28.75), Nauru ($30.47), Falkland Islands ($40.41) and Saint Helena ($52.50).

    The similarities between these five nations are both striking and obvious. They are all island nations. Islands are less likely to have an extensive fibre infrastructure, and since mobile networks normally rely on connection to a fibre backbone, other more expensive solutions such as satellite uplink have had to be instituted – a cost passed on to the consumer.

  • Five cheapest packages in the world

    The five cheapest countries in terms of the average cost of 1GB of mobile data are India ($0.09), Israel ($0.11), Kyrgyzstan ($0.21), Italy ($0.43), and Ukraine ($0.46).

    Conversely to the most expensive, none of these countries are islands. Further, they all either contain excellent fibre broadband infrastructure (Italy, India, Ukraine, Israel), or in the case of Kyrgyzstan rely heavily on mobile data as the primary means to keep its populace connected to the rest of the world.



Regions

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

  • Asia (excl. Near East)

    Asian countries make up a third of the top 20 cheapest in the world. India tops the list, with the average price of one gigabyte (1GB) of mobile data $0.09, while the average price of 1GB is also less than a dollar in Sri Lanka, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Iran, Myanmar and Nepal.

    At the other end of the table it may be surprising to see such a technologically advanced nation as South Korea ($10.94) with mobile data prices among the most expensive in the world. Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong are also among the most expensive in Asia.

  • Baltics

    Two of the three Baltic nations included in the study sit inside the less expensive half of the list, although for countries that enjoy some of the most advanced broadband networks in the world they aren’t represented in the top 40 when it comes to the cost of mobile data.

    Estonia is the cheapest of the three with 1GB costing an average of $1.27 and sits in 53rd place in the world, while in Estonia 1GB costs $1.85 on average. Latvia sits in the most expensive half of the list with an average of $3.79, although it’s still below the global average of $5.09.

  • Caribbean

    The vast majority of the Caribbean islands feature towards the more expensive end of the table, with the Cayman Islands ($23.05) being the priciest of the lot. In fact only three Caribbean nations make it into the less expensive half of the table, with the Dominican Republic ($0.74) by far and away the cheapest in the region, followed by Guadeloupe ($2.42) and Martinique ($2.60).

    There is a reliance on mobile networks in order for many people to get online in the Caribbean, but data packages are often sold in small amounts, increasing the relative cost of 1GB of data.


  • Central America

    All the Central American countries are grouped somewhat close to each other in the middle of our table. El Salvador has an average price per 1GB of data of $1.45, making it marginally less expensive than its neighbours.

    In Mexico you’ll pay an average of $4.77 for 1GB of data, making the biggest country in Central America also the second-most expensive on average when it comes to buying mobile data. Interestingly, our Worldwide Broadband Price Comparison research from January 2020 revealed Mexico is the cheapest place in the region to buy broadband.

  • CIS (Former USSR)

    A number of CIS countries are among the very cheapest in the world for mobile data and all but one sits inside the less expensive half of the table. Kyrgyzstan is third cheapest in the world overall with an average of $0.21, ahead of fifth-placed Kazakhstan ($0.46) and ninth-placed Russian Federation ($0.52).

    Turkmenistan is the only CIS nation to appear among the most expensive in the world where 1GB of data costs $11.44 on average – that’s more than twice what it costs in the second most expensive CIS country, Tajikistan ($4.65).

  • Eastern Europe

    The presence of good network infrastructure throughout Eastern Europe helps the majority of countries to appear in the less expensive half of the table, although only one makes it into the top 20 cheapest countries – Poland – with an average price per 1GB of $0.70, followed by Romania ($1.03) and Moldova ($1.12).

    Greece’s well-documented economic problems are evident here, with mobile data prices in the country much more expensive than in any of its neighbours. Greece’s average price per 1GB of $12.06 puts it in the top 30 most expensive places in the world to buy mobile data and makes it easily the most expensive in the Eastern European region.


  • Near East

    The Near East countries are pretty evenly spread throughout the global list, which is probably about right for a region made up of very different technological cultures. Israel is the cheapest in the region, and second cheapest in the world, with an average price per 1GB of $0.11. Turkey is the second cheapest in the Near East region with an average of $0.72, which puts it 21st on the world list.

    The most expensive country in the region is Yemen, where 1GB costs $15.98 on average. That’s more than 145 times more expensive than the average cost of mobile data in Israel and puts Yemen 217th of 228 countries included in the research.

  • Northern Africa

    The seven Northern African countries included in the research appear higher up the table than the majority of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, although none make it into the top ten cheapest in the world.

    The cheapest country in the region is Algeria, with an average of $0.65, followed by Western Sahara and Morocco (both $0.99). These three all make it into the world’s top 40 cheapest and even Libya, the most expensive country in Northern Africa, still avoids the bottom 50 with an average of $4.73.

  • Northern America

    It’s notable when looking at the global league table how far down it you have to read before you get to Canada and the United States. The largest and richest North American nations are ranked 209 and 188 in the world in terms of the price of mobile data with 1GB costing an average $12.55 in Canada and $8.00 in the US.

    The other two countries regarded as being part of Northern America are vastly different – there’s the north Atlantic island nation of Bermuda ($28.75), which is easily the most expensive in the region (and fourth most expensive in the world), and Greenland ($9.56), which sits mostly in the Arctic circle and has only one mobile provider.


  • Oceania

    Oceania is a vast region made up largely of remote Pacific island nations, often with small populations and few mobile providers. Like the Caribbean, mobile plans often contain only small amounts of data and the majority of countries appear in the more expensive bottom end of the global list, with Nauru the most expensive in the region at $3.047.

    Australia, by far the largest country in the region, is also the second-cheapest (behind Fiji) when it comes to the price of 1GB of mobile data with an average of $0.68. New Zealand, which you might expect to be similar in terms of price to Australia, is considerably more expensive at $6.06 – nine times as expensive as Australia, in fact.

  • South America

    There’s something of a split between the South American countries, with those in the north of the continent such as French Guinea, Guyana and Suriname generally sitting at the more expensive end of the table. Venezuela is a notable absence, while the most expensive country in the region by far is the Falkland Islands, with 1GB of data costing an average of $40.41. The Falklands is also the second most expensive country in the world.

    Chile, with an average of $0.71, is the cheapest country in South America and one of only two to make it into the cheapest 50 countries in the world along with Brazil. Peru, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay are the other South American countries in the world’s top 100 cheapest.

  • Sub-Saharan Africa

    Contrary to what one might expect, eight out of the top 50 cheapest countries in the world for mobile data are in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is in stark contrast to the cost of broadband on the continent, which is almost universally very high or non-existent.

    Somalia features in the top ten, with 1GB of data costing just $0.50. Sub-Saharan Africa also lays claim to some of the most expensive nations in the world for mobile date: Saint Helena, whose average cost for 1GB of mobile data is an eye-watering $52.50, is joined at the bottom of the table by other countries in the region: São Tomé and Príncipe, Malawi and Benin.


  • Western Europe

    Western Europe consists primarily of wealthy nations with highly developed mobile infrastructures. Italy leads the way with the cheapest mobile data in Western Europe. Italy is also the only Western European country to make it into the top ten cheapest in the world, coming in a respectable fourth in the world. The remainder of the region is spread quite evenly throughout the table, with countries such as Gibraltar, Switzerland and Andorra falling just within the top 200.

    The most expensive country in Western Europe is Andorra, with 1GB of data costing just $9.54.



Resources

Downloadable versions of the data set (.xls), the original press release and the research methodology (.pdf)

  • League table

    The full data set can be downloaded here.

  • Press release

    If you wish to see the original press release for this research, you can download it here as a PDF.

  • Methodology

    Our research methodology and notes on how to interpret the data can be downloaded here as a PDF.



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