One might think, as the smartphone and mobile Internet become more democratized in the world, that the price of a gigabyte of data would tend towards the same rates almost everywhere. And yet, even in 2022, the price differences are dizzying. Benefiting from the arrival of Free Mobile in 2012, France has seen its data rates fall very low, to the delight of consumers. The gigabyte of mobile data is charged on average 0.81 dollars.
France is surrounded by much more expensive countries. In Spain, it is indeed necessary to count 1.81 dollars per gigabyte. In Switzerland, count no less than 8.38 dollars for the same amount of data. In Germany, the gigabyte is billed at 4.06 dollars… which is a little cheaper than Belgium where the gigabyte of data costs an average of 4.88 dollars, nearly 5 times more than in France. But there are also a little cheaper, as for example in Italy where the gigabyte of data is charged on average only 0.43 dollars.
The price of a gigabyte of data in France is reasonable, but there are cheaper
Also in Europe, the prize for the most expensive gigabyte of data goes to Greece, where each gigabyte costs an average of $12.06. On the other side of the Atlantic, Americans have to agree to pay almost as much as in Switzerland, ie 8 dollars per gigabyte on average. Canada is more aligned with Greece with a rate of $12.55 for each gigabyte of data. But if you really want data at rock bottom prices, head to India: operators charge only 0.09 cents per gigabyte for access.
The country is from this point of view the cheapest in the world, followed closely by Israel ($0.11), Kyrgyzstan ($0.21), Italy, as we told you, and Ukraine, not very far with a tariff of 0.46 dollars per gigabyte. Rates light years away from those experienced by mobile users in Malawi (count $27.41 per gigabyte), Benin ($27.22), Chad ($23.33), Yemen ($15.98) and Botswana ($13.87). The VisualCapitalist site, which compiled this data in an infographic at the end of the article, explains this large gap in several ways.
In the countries of sub-Saharan Africa – where we see the highest tariffs in the world – the prices charged by operators are explained by a lack of infrastructure. Legacy networks are overused, so operators typically market small data envelopes, driving up the average price per gigabyte in dollars. Most of the most expensive countries are also markets where there is little competition. In Nigeria, where the market is occupied by several operators, the price per gigabyte is much lower.
It is, moreover, the enormous pressure of competition that is driving the prices so low in India, the cheapest country in the world for mobile data. The price has also fallen there, VisualCapitalist tells us, by around 65% since 2019. One of the leading operators in India, Reliance Jio, charges packages with trial periods, with prices at less than 1 dollar per month (!!!). This forces all of its competitors to align (we saw exactly the same thing happen in France with Free Mobile to a lesser extent).
These tariffs could nevertheless be a little too low, and would push operators to sell at a loss, which means that tariffs are more or less condemned to go up in the more or less near future. Elsewhere, in countries like Kyrgyzstan, which is very rural and therefore difficult to connect, the rate is also very low ($0.21 per gigabyte). According to VisualCapitalist, this is due to a technological leap: residents connect almost exclusively to the internet via their smartphone, for lack of sufficiently dense fixed infrastructure.
In addition, in Europe, the standard of living of the countries can greatly influence the price charged by the operators. The countries with the highest per capita GDP, such as Germany, tend to charge a very high price per gigabyte, even though there is not, strictly speaking, any infrastructure problem. We note that the mobile market is also not very competitive. We invite you to discover the huge disparities in the price of the gigabyte around the world in this excellent infographic from VisualCapitalist: