As the hype around 5G continues, the topic of mobile data is dominating the tech sphere. However, with 5G-enabled handsets a long way off, for most consumers, getting a good deal on mobile data is more of a pressing concern.

Cable.co.uk analysed 6,313 mobile data plans in 230 countries to compare the cost of one gigabyte of mobile data across the entire world.

Why do mobile data prices vary?

Data prices vary significantly around the world, for a variety of reasons. Countries that have an extensive 4G infrastructure mean that providers can offer large amounts of data, bringing down prices. On the other hand, countries with limited broadbank infrastructure mean there is a high level of mobile data adoption, meaning prices fall in response to a saturated market.

Countries that have more expensive mobile data usually have limited infrastructure, or where customers buy small data packages driving up the price of a gigabyte.

How do different countries compare?

India is the cheapest country in which to buy mobile data, with the average cost of 1GB at $0.26. This is due to a large amount of competition among telecom service providers driving down prices and an extensive smartphone market.

The UK comes in at 136th, with 1GB of mobile data costing an average of $6.66, the bottom half of European countries. The UK benefits from affordable fixed line broadband connections, but mobile data has not followed suit.

The cheapest mobile data in Western Europe is in Finland, where the average price of 1GB is $1.16.

Commenting on the UK specifically, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk, believes that Brexit could affect the cost of data in the country:

“When looking at the UK compared to our European and EU counterparts, it’s disappointing to see the UK among the most expensive countries for mobile data. Despite a healthy UK marketplace, our study has uncovered that EU nations such as Finland, Poland, Denmark, Italy, Austria and France pay a fraction of what we pay in the UK for similar data usage. It will be interesting to see how our position is affected post-Brexit.”

The United States is one of the most expensive developed nations for purchasing mobile data, coming in 182nd in the world, and with an average 1GB cost of $12.37. With internet providers having a monopoly on prices, a study by Rewheel recently revealed that the problem could get worse, as carriers T-Mobile and Sprint merge.

Four of the five most expensive countries to buy mobile data are in sub-Saharan Africa. Island nations in Oceania and the Caribbean also tend to have high mobile data prices.

Zimbabwe is the most expensive country in which to buy mobile data. The average cost of 1GB there is $75.20 – 289 times the average cost in India due to the country having a small population and limited ICT infrastructure. This meansthat accessing mobile data on a regular basis is affordable for many consumers, a concern when internet access is increasingly vital.

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