A global analysis of mobile data prices by UK-based price comparison portal Cable reveals India is home to the cheapest mobile data price in the world. One gigabyte of data costs $0.26 in India, compared to an average $6.66 in the UK and $12.37 in the US. Cable compared data from 6,313 mobile data plans in 230 countries between October and November 2018 for the study. For example, there is a 97 per cent difference in the price of 1GB of data between India and the US, while the gap in the 2018 edition of the Big Mac index between the two countries is far narrower at 54 per cent. The Big Mac index is a quirky measure of purchasing power parity between nations using the price of McDonald’s Big Mac burgers.
Asia makes up half of the top 20 cheapest mobile data prices in the world, with the average price of 1GB less than a dollar in Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Myanmar and Bangladesh. On the other hand, the survey said Zimbabwe is the most expensive country for mobile data as 1GB there costs $75.2. Dan Howdle, consumer telecom analyst at Cable said, “A country where the young population has a particularly high technological awareness, India offers a vibrant smartphone market with strong adoption and many competitors. Data, therefore, is quite staggeringly cheap.”
Without specifying why India ranks first, the study said the cheapest countries either have “excellent mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure”, or have a large user base reliant on mobile data. The large cost differential for mobile internet between India and other countries is primarily driven by a crowded and competitive telecom sector and is not just a factor of purchasing power. Historically, data prices have been lower than global benchmarks, given the sheer number of service providers.
Jio's entry has only made competition fiercer, forcing telcos to bring down tariffs. Ankit Chhajer, co-founder of tariffs comparison startup Komparify, said, “We can see a significant drop in the price of mobile internet after the entry of Jio as the telco aggressively priced its data on the back of a stronger 4G infrastructure.” A1GB 4G data pack was available at around Rs 250 pre-Jio, and the same is now available at as low as Rs 48, Chhajer said. He pointed out an almost 80 per cent fall in prices of mobile data since the entry of Jio.