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What does it cost to purchase broadband data in developing countries?

Web Foundation · November 28, 2017

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) — an initiative of the Web Foundation — has just released new data which assesses the cost to purchase 1GB of mobile broadband data across 59 low- and middle-income countries.

The new pricing data, which was collected by A4AI at the end of 2016, finds that while mobile broadband affordability continues to improve across the board, the cost to connect remains out of reach for many. The research reveals that:

  • Just 19 of the countries surveyed meet A4AI’s “1 for 2” target for affordable internet — 1GB of mobile data available for 2% or less of average monthly income.
  • Across all 59 countries, the cost to connect averages nearly 6% of monthly income. Broadband is most affordable in the Asia-Pacific region, with 1GB of mobile data available for 2.5% of average monthly income, and most expensive in Africa, where 1GB costs 9.3% of average income.
  • However, Africa also experienced the most significant cost reductions of any region — an average drop of 3.2 percentage points across the continent drove most of the global improvement in affordability seen in this data.
  • While prices are dropping globally, affordability continues to be a major obstacle to access — an obstacle that is compounded by high levels of income inequality. Even in countries like Colombia and the Philippines, where 1GB is priced at around 2% of average income, the lowest 20% of income earners have to pay, respectively, 11% and 6% of their income for 1GB of mobile data.

A4AI plans to produce annual updates to this pricing data to assess and track progress made toward meeting the “1 for 2” affordability target. You can explore this year’s affordability data and find full datasets for download on the A4AI site.



For updates, follow A4AI on twitter at @A4A_Internet and the Web Foundation at @webfoundation.

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