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What Does 1GB of Mobile Data Cost in Every Country? (visualcapitalist.com)
51 points by swatkat 35 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 69 comments



How is this calculated? Because Finland is completely saturated in unlimited data plans and if you don't care for speed, you can get a relatively cheap plan.

Elisa (39% market share): unlimited 1 Mbps data for 9.90 euro a month (29.90 euro a month for 150 Mbps).

Telia (31% market share): unlimited 0.256 Mbps data for 7.90 euro a month (29.90 euro a month for 150 Mbps).

DNA (29% market share): unlimited 1 Mbps data for 12.90 euro a month (29.90 euro a month for 150 Mbps).

Moi (part of DNA these days, don't know if it's counted in their 29% or not): unlimited 100 Mbps for 18 euro a month (23 euro a month for 300 Mbps).

I think Moi might be the only operator that actually sells fixed data plans (6 euro a month for 4 GB at 100 Mbps). Everyone else just sells unlimited plans at varying levels of speed with the entry-level plans basically handicapped to basically email syncing only.

Also, apparently the average monthly data usage for a mobile plan in Finland is 34.3 GB (https://blog.telegeography.com/finns-lead-the-way-in-mobile-...). Probably not going to be hitting that at 0.256 Mbps.


>Also, apparently the average monthly data usage for a mobile plan in Finland is 34.3 GB

Do the fins constantly watch Youtube or Netflix on their phone? 35GB on Mobile is quite lot. And that is an average number. Or do they basically use the Mobile Network as the Internet and dont use WiFi at home?

The same for Taiwan, 20GB on average. Once you take into account the lower end of the spectrum using sub 1GB per month, the median number would be huge.

Hong Kong Currently uses ~3GB on average per connection. With Unlimited plans at about $40 USD.

Those difference are mind-boggling.


A Finn here. I regularly use more than 300 GB of mobile data per month. I pay 35 eur/month for unlimited data, including three SIM cards (Saunalahti MultiSIM). Makes roughly 10 cents per gig.


Brit, <2GB/month. How do you get to 300GB?


Easily. 4G is our household’s only connection, no other options in countryside. 3 kids + Netflix, etc. One SIM card is our Wi-Fi network’s gateway, another I put on my Tesla. One in my phone.


I think there are plenty of people who don't have a fixed Internet connection and just have a 4G base station at their home. I know that at least my grandparents and my dad have both gone that route.


Yes I understand that but that is the same in many places as well. People who cant get Cable / fibre and are stuck with DSL / 4-8Mbps connection decide to use 4G as their Internet. ( I used to do that in my apartment ) Those numbers would need to be a large enough percentage to have a signification effect on the total average.


There were 9.26 million mobile plans in Finland in 2019 (against a population of 5.5 million), and of those 70% had both calls and data features, 7% only calls and 23% only data. So if those 23% data-only plans are the home connections, that'd be roughly two million home connections.

Of course, it's probably not that clear cut. There are probably people who have a fixed line and then just have a mobile 4G hotspot when they go to the cabin. Impossible to tell really.

Data from https://www.ficom.fi/ict-ala/tilastot/matkapuhelinliittym%C3...


The only Data I find from BBC [1] , knowing the Finland is one of the best connected country from other source, along with Wiki [2] having 1.8M of Fixed-broadband subscriptions. I think 23% plans are home connection would be a gross over estimate.

But then we have comment above with 300GB of Mobile Data per month. I just checked my router log, I was barely doing 300GB per month, inclusive of all the iCloud Backup, Youtube, etc.... 300GB Mobile Data is absolutely insane.

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/10461048

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of...


I guess a significant share of those data only plans are used in different kinds of m2m and iot devices.

Of course, the availability of unlimited subscriptions surely is a big factor in popularity of home use of mobile connections in Finland. In places where mobile typically has a data quota, people probably are less likely to use a mobile connection instead of DSL.


The source says that M2M plans are not counted in the total number of plans.


Can't speak for everyone, but since pretty much everyone seems to have unlimited data and the speeds aren't that bad the consumer behavior probably doesn't change at all if you're on wifi or not.

That said, 35GB average still seems rather high. I'm interested how much I'm using, but I only have usage data from the past four months and those months aren't really that representative of what I would call normal use.


According to my iPhone, I've used 7.7 GB since last December. Of course, I've been spending more time at home than usual, but even without a global pandemic, I'm mostly at home or at work, both where I have Wi-Fi and fixed Gigabit connectivity.

I'm definitely not the biggest consumer of data but at least I don't have to change my browsing behavior at all whether or not I'm on Wi-Fi or not. There's also the luxury that whenever I'm out with my laptop, I just tether instead of trying to figure out how to connect to the local Wi-Fi.


Canadian here: I don't know a single person that doesn't absolutely hate the mafia organization that is Rogers. Just letting y'all know


Canadian here: Rogers, unprompted, added 5GB to our data plan, for free.

Which is extremely odd. Because Rogers and Bell are, in fact, several wolverines standing on top of each other in a trench coat. Very expensive, onerous contracts.

(My partner is front-line emergency medical staff, and we are on the city’s discount plan for cell service, so, it could be that.)


> Rogers, unprompted, added 5GB to our data plan, for free

'nother Canuck here... that very same Rogers you speak of added, then canceled a 12mo term option onto my service when I called to cancel. They then sent me a bill for over $400 for an early cancellation charge!!

I actually laughed when I saw it... the unmitigated thievery from this company is appalling!


American here: When I'm in the country, I use a prepaid plan from an MVNO. It seems to cost less than what I hear people saying they pay for a similar contract plan on Rogers or Bell, and it definitely involves less interaction with creatively dressed wildlife.

Maybe it's more obnoxious than it's worth when you're using it full time instead of a month at a time, but it seems to work well. I keep meaning to see if it would make sense to switch to a prepaid MVNO for my US cellular service as well. AT&T and Verizon are, for their part, a consortium of skunks and raccoons standing on top of each other in a trench coat.


Being in an employee purchase plan seems to be a requirement. But not everyone on one got that.

Never quite understood why Canadian télécoms give the best prices to people with large organisation jobs.


In Sudan (where I live in), numbers are a little bit different.

I'm currently using Sudani, the cost of 1 GB is 20 SDG. To USD that roughly equals ($0.14, with rate $1 = 140 SDG). The numbers are the same for MTN, or slightly less since i recall it was 15 SDG.

In office we are using an unlimited Wimax plan [1], and that costs us like 1800SDG / month ($12). For 4G unlimited plan, that is like twice the cost at roughly $28.

Edit adding wimax wikipedia link [1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WiMAX


I think this study needs more information to be really helpful. The bandwidth is really important to understand what you are paying for. 1GB of data is not worth much if it takes 5 minutes to load a webpage. In my experience this is a serious problem in some countries. A lot of modern web services have a ton of code bloat that renders them useless in environments where bandwidth is constrained, though they work fine in high infrastructure environments.


Most of the operators in India have nationwide 4G-LTE with pretty good speed.


Conversely in the US, you can grab an unlimited plan for something like $30. The first 2GB to 15GB (depending on carrier) will have full 4G-LTE speeds. After that, you're throttled. 480p videos can have significant startup buffer with potential buffering throughout the video. That's very different from "premium" unlimited plans of full 4G-LTE regardless of usage.


I experienced this when I traveled to India, from Singapore. I paid about $7 USD for a whole month and I got about 1.5 GB of data everyday.

In Singapore, I paid $15 for 1GB a month. Beat that. It almost felt like daylight robbery when I returned.


> I got about 1.5 GB of data everyday.

How is the speed and what are you using it on? (looks like video).

That's in the price range where I would gladly buy a mobile hotspot wifi, if the speed and latency is good enough.


Speeds are good enough for streaming (especially because videos can buffer), but not good enough for WFH setups, especially because of the data-caps.

A little while back, there was some research that pointed out that mobile data prices in India were regulated by a cartel, because of how accurately data prices and plans were matched across all telecom operators. Jio's entry shattered a lot of it, but even today - data prices are irrational. Buying lots of data is costlier than buying a little.

I put prices for my operator (State-owned BSNL) here: https://gist.github.com/captn3m0/ab25123638b877cd8e3d9868f33... and some interesting insights:

* the cheapest option for me is to spend 4 cents per day to get 2GB data per day. However, it stops working the moment I cross 2GB, and I have to remember to pay every 54 days.

* there are no plans where you can pay for an entire year. Paying for longer durations is _always costlier_.

* All plans have caps around 1-3GB/day and short-durations.


The speed shouldn't be bad, since he got 1.5 gigs per day.


We've heard it said ad nauseam that the reason wireless bandwidth is expensive and datacapped is because there's limited spectrum. How does that explain places like India, with 3.5x the population of the USA but 88x cheaper wireless bandwidth?

After all, the same amount of radio wavelength is available in any part of the world.


Radio wavelength doesn't work like that.

Radio is (1) regional (thus "cell phone"), (2) directional (thus "beam antenna" to simplify the field greatly).

(1) and (2) mean the serviced space is divided into cells, and the cell shape and size are designed, eccording to physical and economic concerns. For example, long, thin cells are used along major roads. Where there is a higher population density, smaller cells are used.


you almost completely answered the question. People compete for limited resources with their paychecks. Its the same reason SF housing is expensive versus India housing, wages!

Of course that not the only factor. supporting infastructure matters too.


In a country (the US) where more and more people have unlimited data plans, what does it even mean to evaluate the cost of "1GB"? My T-Mobile plan gives me unlimited mobile data almost everywhere I go in the world for long periods of time and is in practice quite fast. How does that compare to a service plan that only covers me inside one country? What about in a country as tiny as Israel?

Freemobile in France also has (had?) complex rules covering what kind of connection gets you what kind of data (3G vs 4G connections had different data caps) and the French extended notion of "country". What are the equivalent of DOM/TOM for mobile operators in non-colonial powers?


Test methodology can be found here (they do touch upon unlimited data aspect): https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/assets.cable.co.uk/mobile...


The impressive thing about free was that your 4g cap was bigger. 4g is spectrally more efficient (one reason why it’s faster) so they wanted you to upgrade your phone.

Usually scummy télécoms try to charge you more for the faster service, even when it’s more efficient for them.


This seems to be grossly miscalculated--at least for Canada (too).

They collected details of 60 plans[1], which is their max. The cheapest they found was $2.5/GB, the most expensive being $140/GB (both of these are incredible). They use the median of those sampled[2], but there's no weight given to the plans.. the terrible data plan (100MB for $14) has the same weight as a popular plan (2GB for $40).

There seems to be no concession for other features (roaming, minutes, long distance, voicemail, caller ID, text) nor device subsidies (many operators still include $0-200 flagship devices on Canadian plans) which doesn't exactly level the playing field worldwide (every country has different strategies).

So grain of salt required - I pay half their "average". Is North America expensive? Yes! Do I want 11GB/$? Also yes! (Although India's low price could be a side effect of the Reliance Industries investment fever[3])

[1] https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/assets.cable.co.uk/mobile... [2] https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/assets.cable.co.uk/mobile... [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliance_Industries#Major_subs...


Not proud to be a Canadian whenever I see data presented like this about our telecom industry.

Watching the telecom oligopoly respond to any efforts to make the market more competitive is a masterclass in gaslighting, corporate doublespeak. Quite disgusting how we continue to allow them to get away with it and fail to hold politicians accountable for not fixing this problem.


The godawful presentation doesn't bode well for the accuracy. I'm well aware that's a fallacy, but this is just so atrocious it's either deliberate sabotage or someone is trying too bloody hard to get some message through. This looks like a classic example of Tufte's "lie factor".


The full table is at the end of the article.


That's a straw man. The vast majority of readers are going to make up their mind based on the visualization, not the raw data.


Wow, there is room for a 10x cost reduction in the US.


You do have to consider that the US is a very large country consisting mostly of empty space. The prices are set so that you can use data in the middle of nowhere (or more realistically, along a freeway that runs through the middle of nowhere), or inside a large city.

I'm sure it could be cheaper if your constraint was "only works in the 5 boros of New York City" versus "everywhere in the country", but it doesn't seem like people would buy that plan.


> You do have to consider that the US is a very large country consisting mostly of empty space.

With only three major carriers due to them all merging together.

> The prices are set so that you can use data in the middle of nowhere (or more realistically, along a freeway that runs through the middle of nowhere), or inside a large city.

Is that even the majority of use cases?

> but it doesn't seem like people would buy that plan.

If the pricing were similar to current plans, I doubt they would either.. but I also doubt the smaller carriers wouldn't be offering steep price competition in their particular markets.

I think the reason doesn't happen is because internet service is similarly monopolized in America, often by the same wireless companies, so even if you could stand a smaller carrier up, you would get crushed on the back-end by your competition.


> Is that even the majority of use cases?

It's not, but consumers tend to insist on paying the same price no matter where. There used to be US carriers who offered rate plans with a low price in major metro areas, with a surcharge added for use in rural areas. The product made sense to me, but they ultimately didn't last long.

I think it's similar to the psychology of choosing to pay $50/mo for a 15GB/mo rate plan in order to ensure you never pay an overage charge, when you could do $30/mo for a 5GB/mo plan but get dinged $15 for an extra GB every other month. Big picture, we're talking $600 per year vs $450 per year, but that's not how human psychology works. Instead, we react to those six extra gigabytes costing $15 apiece, and choose to instead buy a bunch of gigabytes we won't use because the lower unit price gives us warm fuzzy feelings.

The numbers are (slightly) made up, but the situation isn't: My partner and I compulsively re-do this calculation in our heads 5 or 6 times a year, every time we get zinged with an overage charge and have another conversation about changing our rate plan. We know it's a waste of time, but we do it anyway, because dark patterns are powerful tools of manipulation.


Australia seems like a good point of comparison. Huge area/low population density, pretty high median income, and they're listed at $0.68


Countries with similar population densities[0] to the US have much lower prices.

[0] places like Colombia, Mozambique, Latvia, Estonia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, and Brazil, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_dependen...


Those countries also has a much lower cost of business and living.


This explanation would make more sense if Finland was as expensive as the US.


China has a similar land mass (3.705MM square miles) as the US (3.797MM square miles), but has data that is ~13x cheaper ($0.61/GB vs. $8.00/GB).


China also has a population of ~1.4B people compared to about 330M in the US. 4.2x the difference.


the middle of nowhere is much cheaper to cover than New York City though, you need a lot less antennas ;-)


It's more about utilization, though. If you have one person that uses an antenna once a month, it makes less money than an antenna that is used by thousands of people 24/7.


Cheaper to cover but you still need backhaul to the towers.


The backhaul can be wireless too.


There is no way in Norway you can get a 1GB plan for $5.28. The mobile networks have been constantly abolishing cheapest data plans instead offering more data for higher price.


But this doesn’t mean that you can buy 1GB of mobile data for that price.

For Australia, it quotes an amount equivalent to 1AUD. (All subsequent prices I quote will be in AUD.)

If you want to buy only 1GB, you’ll almost invariably find it costs you $10; under some schemes it might be $15, and $8.80 is probably the cheapest around at present.

As you get more data, it rapidly drops to the vicinity of $2/GB.

But broadly speaking, you’ll only be able to get down to $1/GB once you’re buying more than about 35GB/month on the Optus network, or more than about 50GB/month on the Telstra network.

And sure, it does continue to drop beyond that point; if you’re wanting something like 100–150GB of data, it can get down to 50–70¢ (Optus/Telstra) per GB, though you may have to shop around to find that. And there are definitely outliers, mostly in specials (e.g. I can currently find 28¢/GB, becoming 38¢/GB after six months, so long as you want 100GB), but I think the figures I quote are representative of the general trend.

So yeah, this does feel as though it matches the data from the original source according to their methodology, but it certainly doesn’t tell the full story, and I feel that as presented it’s more than a little misleading, specifically because internet access and supply patterns vary so much by region. Access, because different parts of the world use the internet in different ways. And supply, because in some places mobile data will typically be augmenting other internet access routes (e.g. home internet supplies 100GB/month, so you only want 1GB/month of mobile data) while in others that infrastructure doesn’t exist, and everything is going through mobile data (so perhaps you’d like a whole 100GB on your mobile plan). Also, any semblance of unlimited access (which you get in some parts of the world, though not Australia for mobile data) really throw a spanner in the works.

My conclusion is that these numbers aren’t all comparable. It’s comparing apples and oranges: quite different so that you have no proper grounds of comparison, but both are fruit, so you can still kinda compare them. I like red apples. I don’t like oranges. I do like orange juice.

For Australian mobile data cost research: https://www.finder.com.au/mobile-plans/compare-sim-only?plan...


> This might seem counterintuitive, but most mobile networks rely on a fixed-line connection. As a result, countries with existing infrastructure are able to offer mobile plans with more data, at a cheaper price. This is the case for India and Italy. Countries with minimal or no infrastructure rely on more costly connection alternatives like satellites, and the cost typically gets passed down to the consumer.

If the above is accurate, that bodes well for starlink.


That sounds strange, AFAIK most of the base stations around here (Czech Republic) are interconnected via point to point microwave links, as they usually have a line of sight of each other.

This way they are pretty independent of the general infrastructure and often work even if the area around is under water due to flooding (I remember a case where they had to deliver fuel for generators powering a base station that ended up effectively on an island).


It'd be more useful for making comparisons to include a table or chart adjusted by the average income of the working class of each country.


I moved from Australia to Cambodia to Germany over the last couple of years. Australia does its best to cover vast areas of bush, driving costs up. Cambodia doesn't bother outside the major cities, where mobile data is good and ridiculously cheap. Germany feels more "normal" - you can get access most places, but it's not cheap.

But as you point out, the difference in actual cost is not as huge. In Cambodia it was $1USD per week for 80Gb of data, because of the insane deals all the providers were doing. But a decent middle-class wage for a Cambodian is around $500/month (so roughly 1% average salary). In Australia the average wage is around $4000USD/month, but data costs you somewhere around $30/month for a monthly plan (roughly the same 1% of salary, but for a lot less data). Not sure what the average salary for Germany is, but I'm paying $12USD (approx) per month for an 8Gb plan. It feels about 1% of average salary considering all the other costs.


The Cambodian plan can serve as your mobile and home connection, while in Aus, you’ll likely need a home connection too, so your costs are at least double.


Bad data viz alert: Why use area to encode mobile data cost when you're also using the vertical axis for the same purpose?


And the horizontal axis means nothing.

They could've used some permutation of x, y and area to represent "cost of 1GB", "number of telecoms" and "average speed". But alas.


A simple sorted bar chart would suffice and be more readable, in my opinion.


There's a table down below if you scroll down. Also, this study was taken from here: https://www.cable.co.uk/mobiles/worldwide-data-pricing/

You can read test methodology here: https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/assets.cable.co.uk/mobile...


France is 3-4x cheaper than reported (0.25 EUR/Gb for Bouygues for instance)

Plus illimited calls, sms, mms. Beyond 30 Gbps you are illimited, but with a lower speed (not sure which, probably EDGE)


Yay Canada...


What is the x-axis?


This seems to be grossly miscalculated--at least for Italy.

No idea how these prices are calculated, but when I was still in Italy, I paid $15/mo. and only had 2GB. In contrast, here in Poland I pay $6/mo. and I get 20GB.

Also, I've never seen an infographic as confusing as this one.

Extremely bad job all around.



It says:

1. Packages were recorded up to a maximum of 60 per country – records beyond this number have negligible impact on the average

2. Averages are calculated as the MEDIAN of all recorded package prices/data limits

But It doesn't mean most citizen will use median plan, I believe everyone will tend to use cheapest plan. Is average number really meaningful?


prices have gone down significantly in Italy. you can get 70GB for 6€/month nowadays.




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