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Which Countries Get the Best Value Mobile Data and Broadband?

Which Countries Get the Best Value Mobile Data and Broadband?

Whether you’re online to earn a living, take a course, get vital news updates or just chill, a decent internet connection is a 21st-century human right.

But it is a right that is not equally distributed. Just 67% of the global population — around 5.4 billion people — use the internet. And of those, likely hundreds of millions have impossibly slow connections or get only occasional access through shared devices. High prices, low income and poor infrastructure can make a decent mobile data or broadband connection less like a right and more like a luxury.

As the pandemic and recent conflicts have demonstrated, the internet is both an ear to the world and a channel through which to be heard. But in which countries is it most prohibitively expensive — compared to local income or broadband speed?

The data analysts at crunched the numbers to find out. We ranked every country by comparing the cost of a mobile data plan and broadband package against average local incomes and download speeds, using data from and the World Bank.

Key Findings

  • In Zimbabwe, 10GB per month of mobile data for a year costs60% of the average local income — the worst value anywhere in the world.
  • Romania has the best value broadband in the world, whether compared to local income (74%) or by cost vs. speed ($0.01 per Mbps of download speed).
  • In the UK, it costs $0.61 per Mbps of download speed — more expensive than in 105 other countries.
  • In the S., a year of data costs 1.22% of the average income.

The Annual Affordability of a 10GB per Month Data Plan in Every Country

First, we compared the cost of a local 10 GB monthly mobile data plan over a year to the average annual income in each country. We found five countries where the cost of such a mobile plan would be higher than the average income — and they are all in Africa. In fact, the ten countries where mobile data is least affordable are all in Africa. The eleventh least affordable data plan is in Southeast Asia: Timor-Leste, where a year of data costs 53.95% of the average annual income.

The least affordable mobile plans of all are in Zimbabwe (356.60%). The average income here is 3.76 times that of second-placed Central African Republic, but a data plan is more than four times as expensive. Mobile data prices in Zimbabwe have soared since 2020 due to inflation, a devalued Zimbabwe dollar and rising running costs. In comparison, the U.S. has much higher wages and much lower mobile charges. In the U.S., a 10GB data plan costs 1.22% of the average income, making it more affordable than two-thirds of other countries.

The Cost of Internet Broadband Relative to Download Speed in Every Country

Next, we compared the average price per 1 Mbps of broadband download speed around the world. The cheapest markets are a mix of European and Asian territories. The cheapest of all is Romania, where broadband costs just $0.01 per Mbps. As long ago as 2015, tests showed the average download speed in Romania to be 60 Mbps, way ahead of America’s 28.9 Mbps at the time.

The main reason for Romania’s fast, cheap internet is that small community hubs answered the call for connectivity before the national telecommunications company. Local network operators, often based in internet cafes, shared fast connections over short distances using overhead cables. Bigger internet companies now have to compete with these speeds and prices if they are to succeed.

The most expensive internet territories by speed are the African countries of Burundi ($159.15) and Eritrea ($338.15) and the remote Marshall Islands ($142.88) in the Pacific. Eritrea is a repressive one-party state, and as of 2019, internet penetration was just above 1%. The country has no privately owned media, and communications are tightly restricted.

The Affordability of the Average Internet Broadband Plan in Every Country

Finally, we compared the cost of an annual broadband plan to each country’s average income. Romania again comes out with the best value, thanks to its independent local hubs (see above). In Romania, a year of broadband costs 0.74% of the average income.

Most of the other high-value countries, including Sweden, Singapore and Denmark, can thank high wages for balancing out their broadband costs. But Kazakhstan (0.93%) is there thanks to low prices — Swedish broadband is 6.4 times as expensive. Internet access is primarily controlled by the state in Kazakhstan, and the government completely shut down access during civil unrest in 2022.

The U.S. (1.22%) has the 19th most affordable internet compared to average local income. This puts it just behind the UK (1.14%), Italy (1.16%) and France (1.17%). However, researchers have found that users in lower-income areas of the U.S. have less access to cheaper broadband deals.

“Broadband pricing is so regionally and even locally fragmented that you might have a very large incumbent provider offer a plan to a million people at, say, three different price points across the country,” the report’s writer, Tyler Cooper, told Bloomberg.

Internet for All

Imagine trying to get through the pandemic without internet access; this was the reality for many in countries with low access rates, but it was also an issue for Americans for whom $50-70 a month, or the cost of replacing worn-out devices, was too much in a moment of economic precarity.

However, internet access is largely a question of governmental will or market-driven commercial interests, depending on where you live. As the surprising example of Romania and its cheap, fast community broadband hubs demonstrates, as the communication network of the people, it is in the hands of the people that the internet becomes most powerful.

Methodology & Sources

To determine the countries with the best value mobile data and broadband, we reviewed data from and the World Bank.

Countries were ranked based on the local annual cost of a 10 GB monthly mobile data plan as a percentage of annual net national income per capita, as well as the local average annual cost of a monthly broadband package as a percentage of net national income per capita. Countries were also ranked on the ratio of the average cost of network bandwidth in megabits per second to average download speed.

Data on the cost of broadband and mobile data are from, while data on average internet speeds is from Speedtest. Data on national net income per capita is from the World Bank.

This data is correct as of March 2024.

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