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Where can you get the best value mobile data in the world?

Our mobile phones are hugely powerful tiny little machines that can connect us to almost anything or anyone in the world with a tap of a screen. We can listen to almost any song ever recorded or watch almost any film ever made, whether we’re on the train, at an airport or on our lunch break at work. We can apply for jobs, find a date, book a vacation or movie tickets and do our shopping. But only if we have mobile data.

Without mobile data - let’s not even get into the perils and frustrations of public wifi - our sophisticated phones are no more useful than a 20-year-old mobile phone would have been. You can ring people on them, but that’s about it, which seems like a big waste of something that would have been beyond our wildest sci-fi dreams just a few decades ago.

However, mobile data is rarely free - unless you get a REALLY good deal - and costs can vary widely from provider to provider and from plan to plan. Unsurprisingly they also vary a lot from country to country. Top Dollar looked into exactly how different mobile data prices around the world are and found that the best deals are to be found… in Israel.

The best value mobile data in the world

Yes, mobile data really is best value in Israel where you can pay just one cent per 1Mbps download speed on a 10GB plan. It’s not much more expensive in China either, where the same kind of plan would cost only three cents. It’s twice that much in Italy, France, Australia and Kyrgyzstan, but six cents per 1Mbps is still pretty great value for everything your mobile phone can do for you.

If there are obvious geographical trends to pick out from these results, it’s hard to identify them, with a wide spread of countries featuring in the top ten, including those as disparate as Kuwait, Fiji and Moldova, which have very little in common beyond having low mobile data charges of between seven and eight cents. Rounding up the ten cheapest, meanwhile, is Denmark, generally renowned as one of the most expensive places to live in the world.

The worst value mobile data in the world

So we’ve seen where in the world you can stream the latest movies on your phone without worrying too much about the costs, but there are countries where this would be much less good value. Take Namibia, for example, where a 10GB plan would cost you $11.36 per 1Mbps download speed, a whole $11.06 more than even tenth-placed Denmark and a world away from Israel’s single cent.

It’s way out in the lead for worst value data, with second-placed Syria coming in at a comparatively low $3.20, while Cubans would have to pay $2.28 for their data. Panama is the other country with a rate above $2, while Tajikistan, Colombia, Ivory Coast, Czech Republic, Paraguay and Afghanistan are the other geographically disparate countries that make up the top ten worst value for mobile data.

The most affordable mobile data in the world

We’ve looked at the best and worst value data, but it is of course relative to the circumstances in those countries. For example, in Denmark where the average wage is $50,000, the charge of $0.09 per 1Mbps really is a drop in the ocean, but what looks like a great value deal in other countries may still be unaffordable based on the average wages there.

Top Dollar looked into this too, working out how much of a monthly salary each 10GB plan would be for each country. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Israel still comes out on top for affordability with its incredibly cheap mobile data barely making a dent in wages as it costs just 0.02% of an average salary.

European countries like Italy and France also feature high up in this list, with low fees and high average salaries, while Australia, Iceland, Singapore, Finland, Kuwait and Austria make up the rest of the top ten.

The difference between value and affordability can perhaps be best seen in the United States of America, which ranks just 67th for value with a rate of $0.41 for 10GB at 1Mbps but rises up to 20th for affordability thanks to its average income of $55,435.

The least affordable mobile data in the world

There are still many countries around the world where the idea of having a top of the range mobile phone with a big data package and high download speeds remains a fantasy rather than reality. For these countries, 10GB of mobile data is completely unaffordable relative to their average monthly salaries.

The least affordable data in the world is in Malawi, where a month’s data package can cost $250, which is 841.78% of the monthly salary, so it would cost almost nine paychecks for just one month. Other African countries make up most of the rest of the list, with Chad’s data coming in at 534.27% and the Central African Republic and Sao Tome and Principe both also having fees of over 200% of their salaries.

This isn’t the case across all of Africa of course. In Mauritius your monthly data would on average make up just 0.82% of your wages, while it’s relatively low in countries like Algeria, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt and Sudan. Meanwhile, the fourth least affordable country in the world is Yemen in Asia, where you would need to pay 257.01% of your monthly income to have mobile data.

Having the ability to pay for a mobile phone and a decent data package might feel like a standard part of modern life in some parts of the world, but this research certainly shows just how far away from reality that still is in many countries. There’s something to think about the next time you’re complaining about Netflix buffering while you’re trying to stream Cooking With Paris on the bus to work.
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