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Broadband prices in SA are falling but still not cheap enough

JOHANNESBURG — On average, a broadband connection in South Africa cost about R50 less than last year, according to the latest Cable.co.uk research. Surprisingly, the research also highlights how broadband pricing in South Africa (ranked 93rd cheapest in the world) is now more low cost than that in the US (ranked 116). This particular point is sure to be up for rigorous debate, but it still indicates a positive trend for South Africa. Hopefully, digital migration will finally enable far wider broadband access in SA. The reality is that we need fast, cheap, widely accessible broadband to help grow this economy – and we need it as soon as possible. – Gareth van Zyl

PRESS RELEASE: Worldwide Broadband Price Comparison demonstrates vast disparities in the cost of getting online

  • 3,303 fixed-line broadband deals in 195 countries were analysed by Cable.co.uk with the assistance of international consumer insight consultancy BVA BDRC between 15 August and 20 September 2018.
  • Ukraine offers the world’s cheapest broadband, with an average monthly cost of exactly $5 per month.
  • Mauritania is the world’s most expensive country to get a broadband deal, with an average package price of $768.16 per month
  • The United States is one of the most expensive Western nations at 120th place overall, and an average package cost of $67.69
  • Meanwhile, four of the top six cheapest countries were formerly a part of the USSR (now collectively known as the Commonwealth of Independent States or CIS), including the Russian Federation itself, which is the world’s fourth cheapest country, with an average package cost of just $9.77, or around one-seventh the cost of broadband in the USA
  • Sub-Saharan Africa fared worst overall with all but four of the 31 countries in the region sitting in the most expensive half of the table, 17 in the most expensive quarter
  • Cable’s worldwide broadband data have been featured in leading economic publications around the globe including the World Economic Forum, and were cited by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in UK Parliament during his reply to Philip Hammond’s budget speech earlier this week
  • You can download the full data set, along with further insights, a detailed research methodology, and various graphics and interactive tools via this study’s landing page.

Data from 3,303 fixed-line broadband deals in 195 countries were gathered and analysed by Cable.co.uk with the assistance of international consumer insight consultancy BVA BDRC between 15 August and 20 September 2018.

Ukraine offers the world’s cheapest broadband, with an average cost of $5 per month. The West African nation of Mauritania is the most expensive, with an average package price of $768.16.

Four of the top six cheapest countries in the world are found in the former USSR (Commonwealth of Independent States or CIS), including the Russian Federation itself with an average package cost of just $9.77 per month. Conversely, the United States has some of the most expensive broadband in the world, coming in 119th place with an average monthly package cost of $67.69.

Within Western Europe, Italy is the cheapest, with an average package price of USD 29.48 per month, followed by France ($31.14), Germany ($36.68) and Monaco ($37.00). The UK came in 5th cheapest out of 29 Western European nations (and 61stcheapest worldwide), with an average package price of $39.58 per month.

In the Near East region, war-ravaged Syria came in cheapest with an average monthly price of $13 per month (and ranked seventh overall), with Saudi Arabia ($95.72), Bahrain ($96.29), Qatar ($140.58), Oman ($150.63) and the United Arab Emirates ($157.10) providing the most expensive connectivity in the region.

Sri Lanka is the cheapest country in which to buy broadband in Asia (as well as second-cheapest globally) with an average package price of $5.65 per month, followed by Iran ($8.20) and Nepal ($16.47) – all three rank among the top 10% cheapest in the world. The Maldives ($81.55), Brunei Darussalam ($123.29) and Laos ($239.25) provide the most expensive package prices per month in the region.

Mexico is the cheapest country to buy a broadband deal in Central America, with an average broadband package cost per month of $33.32. Panama is the most expensive with an average package price of $108.38 per month.

In North America, Canada offers the cheapest broadband on average ($57.66), coming in 22 positions ahead of the United States globally ($67.69). Bermuda provides the most expensive packages in the region with an average price of $124.36 per month.

Saint-Martin (France) offers the cheapest broadband in the Caribbean, with an average package price of $23.78 per month, with the British Virgin Islands ($141.17), Cayman Islands ($158.69), Antigua and Barbuda ($177.15) and Haiti ($207.39) at the most expensive end, both regionally and globally.

Sub-Saharan Africa fared worst overall with almost all of its countries in the most expensive half of the table. Réunion, off the east coast of Madagascar, was the cheapest in the region, coming in 48th overall with an average package price of $35.45. Mauritania, meanwhile, charges residential users an average of $768.16 per month and is the most expensive in the world. Mali ($160.53), Tanzania ($181.80), Burkina Faso ($201.94) and Namibia ($383.83) join Mauritania as the most expensive countries in the region, and sit among the ten most expensive countries in the world.

Read also: Taste of Cyril’s reform plan: Faster mobile broadband a priority

11 of the 12 countries studied in Oceania were found in the most expensive half of the global table (Australia being the only exception). Generally, larger landmasses such as Australia and New Zealand are cheaper than smaller islands states. Vanuatu ($138.54), Cook Islands ($171.34) and Papua New Guinea ($571.67) are the most expensive in the region, with Papua New Guinea coming in second-most expensive in the world.

Despite significant year-on-year ups and downs in broadband pricing in various countries around the world, the average price of a broadband deal globally remains constant, dropping just $0.12 overall, from $73.04 to $72.92, or around 1.64%, between the fourth quarter of 2017 and the fourth quarter of 2018.

In a previous reportCable.co.uk analysed over 163 million broadband speed tests to rank 200 countries by the average internet speed they offer.

Commenting on the findings of the research internationally, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk, said:

“Despite many countries providing faster access year-on-year, and the price of broadband fluctuating – sometimes wildly – from country to country, on average the price of broadband worldwide remains largely unchanged, falling just 1.64% since the fourth quarter of 2017.

“In our worldwide broadband speed comparison, released earlier this year, similar disparities were apparent to those seen here. The countries with slow, patchy broadband infrastructure that supplies only a fraction of the population tend to be the most expensive. Likewise, those with exceptional, often full-fibre (FTTH) infrastructure supplying the majority of the population tend to be the cheapest, if not in absolute terms, certainly on a cost-per-megabit basis.

Read also: Boosting SA broadband: New subsea cable will connect Cape Town to Brazil

“The United States is a point of particular interest in this data set. As arguably the world’s most technologically advanced Western nation, its broadband is shockingly expensive compared to much of the world. In fact, it costs seven times as much to get a broadband deal in the United States as it does to get one in Russia, and over 64% more than it does in China. America’s broadband duopoly simply cannot compete with healthier, multi-provider marketplaces.

“As for the UK, with a healthy, open marketplace offering relatively cheap broadband deals to everyone, and so-called ‘superfast’ speeds available to around 96% of homes, the UK is doing rather well, sitting in the top third of cheapest countries and coming in a respectable fifth cheapest of the 29 countries in Western Europe.”

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