Cost of data in China drops 93% as US still looks overly expensive

China telcos have slashed the average price of data over the last twelve months, though the US, South Korea, New Zealand and Canada are still look incredibly expensive.

While there is no perfect price for data tariffs as the nuances of each market vary quite considerably, looking at the data provided by, it is becoming clear that some markets are better at managing the cost of connectivity than others.

It is always worth remembering that despite telcos stating they would like to give consumers as much as possible, they will charge as much as deemed tolerable for wallets. Consumers are only valuable to telcos when they pay enough money.

Average Price per GB – select countries (USD, $)
Country Global ranking Price per GB Year-on-year
India 1 0.09 -65.4%
Italy 4 0.43 -52.3%
China 12 0.61 -93.9%
Australia 16 0.68 -62.5%
France 30 0.81 -62.9%
Thailand 51 1.23 -55.8%
UK 59 1.39 -79.1%
Spain 75 1.81 -52.2%
New Zealand 180 6.06 -38.2%
USA 188 8.00 -35.4%
South Korea 202 10.94 -27.7
Canada 209 12.55 +4.3%
Cuba 212 13.33 +5.7%


“Many of the cheapest countries in which to buy mobile data fall roughly into one of two categories,” said Dan Howdle of

“Some have excellent mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure and so providers are able to offer large amounts of data, which brings down the price per gigabyte. Others with less advanced broadband networks are heavily reliant on mobile data and the economy dictates that prices must be low, as that’s what people can afford.

“At the more expensive end of the list, we have countries where often the infrastructure isn’t great but also where consumption is very small.”

This explanation from Howdle is reasonable, but it begs the question as to why some countries are at the north end of the scale, the US, Canada and South Korea for example.

The US is of course a significantly larger country than some which are further up on the list, but the small number of major MNOs allow for scaled economics with larger subscriber bases. Canada is a very large country, but the population is concentrated into smaller regions. South Korea is another unusual one, considering roughly 20% of the population is located in the capital, Seoul.

There will of course be numerous explanations and incremental contributing factors, such as wealth of the nation or cost of spectrum licenses, but then again there will also be nations with similar demands who are offering significantly cheaper data.

One reason data is more expensive in some places might simply be because these telcos are able to charge more. In the absence of a rival offering a disruptive pricing plan to bring down the cost of data, the telcos will charge as much as they can to be as profitable as possible.

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