back to article US, UK, Western Europe fail to hit top 50 cheapest broadband list

In an analysis of 3,356 fixed-line broadband deals in 220 countries, price comparison website found that the UK has the 92nd cheapest internet, beating the US, which came in 134th place. Based on 41 packages, the average cost per month for broadband in Britain came in at $39.01. Stateside, this rose to $55, from 34 …

  1. VoiceOfTruth

    Some services overseas

    I have travelled a fair bit and I do see some better services offered overseas compared to what we have here in Blighty. For example data packages which are 'in country' or 'external' - for some countries external connectivity is more expensive. Some mobile phone company apps overseas makes Three's look like a 1st version from 20 years ago. And banking - an sms every time I use my card (or rather every time my card is used).

    I'm happy with the Three unlimited data offering. Why bother with ADSL these days?

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Some services overseas


      Mobile internet access is extremely good, especially compared to our options in the early 90s, but it's always a step behind (good quality) broadband.

      1. BebopWeBop

        Re: Some services overseas

        Not in much of rural Britain .

  2. heyrick Silver badge

    France ($28.92)

    Hmmm. My phone+mobile+internet package costs €67 a month. There are cheaper options but being rural I want the phone line and ISP to be the same. Dumb farmers finding intriguing ways to smash the line is an annual event...

    On the plus side, from my landline I can call landlines in most of the world for free. Almost a shame I'm an introvert and don't make use of that...

    1. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: France ($28.92)

      > On the plus side, from my landline I can call landlines in most of the world for free

      It seems to be a thing in Europe.

      I've got it in France, and it includes mobile numbers in USA (because they are indistinguishable from geographic land lines). My parents have it in Spain. I could even have it in Andorra, for a small monthly fee.

      This is as it should be. I can easily subscribe to a VoIP provider that offers same for a nominal 1 euro per month. If it isn't true in UK (and it appears not to be) then you are being had.


      1. Magani

        Re: France ($28.92)

        It seems to be a thing in Europe.

        And at the opposite end of the planet here in Oz as well. For about AUD120 (GBP70, USD90) per month, we get 100mbps down / 25 up unlimited data, cable entertainment equivalent to Netflix/Foxtel, land line with free calls to all national and mobile numbers as well as free calls to most countries that we'd want to call (Nth America, UK/Europe and most of Asia) as well as some others in Sth America.

        Compared to average weekly earnings here, it's quite affordable.

        1. hoola Silver badge

          Re: France ($28.92)

          Your last line "Compared to average weekly earnings here, it's quite affordable." is actually one of the most important criteria.

          What the absolute cost the broadband supplier charges needs to be measured against average income and cost of living.

          If the average annual salary is half that of the UK and the cost of the broadband is also half, the actual costs to the user's in the country is the same.

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: France ($28.92)

      "from my landline I can call landlines in most of the world for free" ... so maybe I'll go and dig that old DC Hayes Micromodem out of the cupboard ... a lot slower I guess (not a Gigabit, more like a gimmyalittlebit) but I bet the malware delivery attempts would end once they discover that the link is that slow.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: France ($28.92)

      France has got *a lot* better recently. I'm not sure how much I'm paying (probably around 30 or 40 of those European pesos) but since they replaced the old telegraph lines with fibre I find that now the bottleneck is the bits of Cat 5 in the LAN connection.

      Until last year it used to be quicker to communicate via carrier sloth, when they were not on strike.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: France ($28.92)

        France is absolutely on fire lately when it comes to connectivity.

        My parents have a holiday home on some French mountainside. It's a twenty minute trek through thick woods to get to the nearest neighbour. It takes five minutes by car to go down their windy drive to the actual home. They currently have DSL through telephone cables suspended on poles so if there's a thunderstorm in the next valley their connectivity drops for 30 seconds after each flash. I'm amazed they even have running water.

        And now, this spring, the telephone company (Orange) is digging an enormous trench to lay down fibre to the home (FTTH as they call it in French). For free. I haven't really looked into the upgrade deals yet but if these (non-upgrade) deals are anything to go by then it's truly amazing.

        From the looks of it, they can get fibre in their holiday home in the French wilderness before I can get it in my residential area in London's zone 2.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: France ($28.92)

          Yes indeed, they're wiring up every last corner of the country with fibre.

          Being stupid is one thing we cannot accuse the French of. Thankfully we can still accuse them of being French.

  3. LDS Silver badge

    Withour a purchase power comparison it means little

    Also the people building and running the systems cost less in the same countries. There could be also hidden costs. In Italy the battle between ISPs brought the prices down - but the try to recover some profits trying to hinder people buy the packages without the modem/routers include (ignoring the directive mandating their availability) which may be paid separately, and/or trying to lock people in into multi-year contracts with activation fees monthly payments, and the like.

    1. Dale 3

      Re: Withour a purchase power comparison it means little

      Exactly. The cheapest country supposedly is Syria ($2.15). Their average monthly broadband package is 5500 in their local currency, against an annual average salary of 149000 (according to SalaryExplorer), giving 3.7% of annual salary. In the UK the monthly average is 29.66 against annual average salary of 71000, which is 0.4% of annual salary. Even putting aside arguments about how representative the various averages may be in real life, there is still an order of magnitude difference.

      The only time this list is beneficial is if you are a global traveller who earns in one currency and pays local rates for access as you go.

      1. Giles C Silver badge

        Re: Withour a purchase power comparison it means little

        Er the UK office for national statistics say the average salary is £596 per week or £31000 per year which would make it 1.14% of the annual income, still a bit cheaper in comparison but not to the same degree.

      2. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: Withour a purchase power comparison it means little

        I think this list shows how little the (common) technology is part of the cost.

        Be interesting to see how much of the cost is profit, wages vs land vs tech.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Withour a purchase power comparison it means little

      Doing any kind of infrastructure upgrade in a developed country is always more costly. And that's made worse in the case of the UK because our telecoms networks were already very capable. It's easy to get investment if you're rolling out fibre to a country that has only just got electricity. The business case is obvious. But trying to make the case for 'a bit more speed, that only a few people actually want' is a lot harder.

      But we're getting there. I still maintain that the UK has always had a network that is adequate for the vast majority of people. There is a minority who were (still are) not getting a good service but very few people have ever found themselves unable to do what they need to.

      And when you look at what happens when there's a surge for demand (Sports event, Apple throwing out an update, Pandemic forcing everyone home) you notice something interesting. Nothing changes. People continue to be able to do what they want to do. That is worth paying extra for.

    3. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Withour a purchase power comparison it means little

      The list is provided as an .Xls

      You can do some excel work to calculate a value based on PPP if that interests you, or compare to population density, or average rainfall on full moons.

  4. DevOpsTimothyC Bronze badge

    #4. Ukraine

    I'm surprised that they are #4. Price wise it's a little hard to beat a FREE Starlink connection.

  5. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Chalk and cheese

    So is this survey for the same quality of service? The same bandwidth? The same data caps?

    Or does it vary from a 1MBit/s Wimax in a rural domain to a 1GBit/s FTTH in the most expensive cities in the world.

    It seems to me that these variations are in line with the (lower) cost of equipment in countries with lower abilities to buy top quality kit when compared with those that prohibit cheapo hardware on the basis that a foreign power might be eavesdropping. Also that the cost of installing infrastructure is heavily dependent on local labour costs - which also vary enormously.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Chalk and cheese

      Some of them are satellite services (and I'm not talking about Starlink here) that are a lot slower than 1MBit/s

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chalk and cheese

      The equipment costs pretty much the same everywhere; it's mostly made in China or Taiwan no matter whose name is on it or where you are. So it comes down to how fancy the kit is and how many customers are sharing links. But setting that apples-to-apples, it's all about the cost of labour to install, maintain, and support the system. It shouldn't be surprising that things cost less where the going wage is USD 4/hour than where it's USD 20.

      Everyone knows some places have a lower cost of living than others. It's also well-known that cities have a higher cost of living even relative to wages than rural areas; that's been studied at length. But transportation and communication services have cost structures that overwhelmingly favour compact populations. The interesting question is why some large, mostly-rural countries (e.g., Russia) are rated as having low-cost communications while others (e.g., Canada) are not. My guess is that in some places price data is available only for large cities; small towns and rural areas may have no price data available -- or no communication service available. This is why it doesn't make a lot of sense to limit these things to "broadband": it's necessary to understand both what is available at all and what it costs. If you live in the rural Russian far east, I doubt very much that you can purchase at any price what everyone in Singapore expects to be cheap. So "no price data" is dropped from the population and as a result you end up with a nice low median price -- which is great if you live in St. Petersburg but doesn't reflect reality for many others. Meanwhile Canadians can usually get some kind of reasonably fast Internet access even in rural areas and the North, which is expensive to supply, so the median price in the survey comes out high but reflects what's really available. That's where this seems like a rural/urban divide.

    3. Chris Miller

      Re: Chalk and cheese

      International price comparisons of anything are pretty meaningless unless done on a PPP basis (or use the Big Mac Index, if you must). You're unlikely to see prices of $50 pcm in Bangladesh, say.

  6. johnfbw

    Germany isn't that cheap

    I pay approx 30% more in Germany than I did in the UK and I get locked in to a 2 year contract (auto renewing for a decade if you don't sacrifice a goat on the third full moon before contract expiry)

  7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    PPP anyone?

    If the price comparison is solely based on exchange rates then it is inherently flawed. There is the concept of "purchasing power parity" which is supposed to mitigate exchange rate effects by comparing the price of similar products in local currency around the world. There are flaws in this, too, but it's often useful, especially when comparing what are average wages and what can be bought with them. The lower the average wage, the cheaper services will seem in comparison, but PPP can correct this to show that some things are in fact more expensive.

    Of course, broadband costs are based on a mixture of high capital costs to build the network – the higher the penetration, the higher the cost – and lower wage and fixed costs to sell (got to have sales and marketing) and maintain it, plus some variable costs related to interconnection and peering charges. So you need to reflect those in any comparison.

    War tends to play hell with infrastructure and telecoms is no exception. While they weren't murdering and raping, Putin's Chechens were also destroying and looting whatever they could take with them: copper cables being one of the favourites.

    But elsewhere in the country, and relevant for the comparison, it seems that Ukraine benefits from having lots of internet service providers. Apparently, this might have something to do with competition. Just don't mention this to the FCC which is happy to see monopolies in the US…

  8. BOFH in Training Bronze badge

    Average broadband speed stated in the country

    I had a look at the map, and I found it hard to figure out which countries are really doing well in terms of pricing since I could not see anything about speeds offered.

    I know some places consider 15mbps down 1mbps up as broadband.

    And some places consider speeds of at least 100mbps up and down as broadband.

    So is a place with 15mbps speeds going for 15 bucks a month really better then a place which has 100mbps going for 25 bucks a month? What if one of those places have a limit on how much data you can transfer per month?

    Am familiar with Singapore's broadband market. The map states that the average price is USD32.70. Everyone here is on fibre connections, fully symmetrical. Don't think DSL even exists here anymore, and the cable tv provider converted to all fibre a few years back.

    I think the slowest broadband you can get in Singapore is at about USD 21 for 400mbps up and down. The mostcommonly used is 1gbps up/down for about USD30 - USD75 (depending on telco and other things in the package - including TV). I think there is even up to 10gbps available for a couple of 100s USD. I myself am on a 1gbps connection which costs me about USD30 a month. And according to my router my home has done about 800GB of transfer in the pass month (multiple netflix streams, including at least one at 4k, youtube, gaming, work, local NAS being used remotely etc all adds up over time).

    And I know of months when we have transfered over 5TB.

    Oh, all our packages have no limit on data transfer.

    I wish the price comparison map stated at the least lowest / highest price and include lowest and higher speeds as well, so you get a better comparison.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Since when did a lot of Europe and the U.K.

    dump the Euro and the Pound to change their currency to dollars?

    1. Pangasinan Philippines

      Re: Since when did a lot of Europe and the U.K.

      Should have quoted the prices using Mars Bars as currency.

    2. LosD

      Re: Since when did a lot of Europe and the U.K.

      Does it really matter? As long as it is the same currency used for all countries. This is like me whining that they're not using Danish Kroner.

      There's plenty of issues with the study (not adjusting for income, not mentioning speeds), but the currency used is not one of them.

  10. captain veg Silver badge

    If it's any consolation to Brits

    "If it's any consolation to Brits, not a single country within Western Europe ranked in the top 50"

    Well, if it's all really down to exchange rates, then expect yet another Brexit dividend!


  11. Kev99 Silver badge

    In my opinion the reason so many of the "industrialised" countries are so costly is because they've sold out their critical infrastructure to conglomerates who care only for what they can cram into their back pockets.

    1. Rol

      It's telling that someone could find your observation worthy of a downvote. It's scary how invasive these corporate shills have been getting.

      Time was you could be at a social event and never meet the spawn of the devil, but now they're creeping into every facet of normal decent human life, espousing their heavily sponsored verbiage, like a Judas Iscariot, at a pieces of silver trolley dash.

      Of course the outcome of your infrastructure being taken over by an American multinational, is the price will directly match how successful they are at cornering the market and denying you choice.

      Down my road there are several Kebab shops - they all charge the same high price and they are all owned by the same extended family. On the face of it, it looks like healthy competition, and the price reluctantly accepted, but dig a little and you find it's at best a cartel, but really a monopoly.

  12. Just an old bloke

    What they do not mention is the quality or speed of the broadband received for the money. I suspect they're comparing apples with peanuts.

    Here in the Canaries, you can get 100/30mb fibre from a 3rd party supplier for €15/mnth but testing results reveal less than impressive performance. However, if rented from Movistar (Telefonica owned national carrier) for 33€ a month you can get a 300Mb sym FTTD that tests over the advertised rate. For another 20€ you csn bolt on a mobile and TV.

    What would have been more indicative would be a price per Mb/month.

  13. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Financial implications

    I hope the articles author is reading the comments here. Many have mentioned the local "spending power" which will drastically alter the order of the rankings. The closest he got to acknowledging this was a quoting the reports comments about recent variations in some currencies which affected their rankings.

    Considering this is El Reg, we expect better :-)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I didn't know the Russian army installed broadband

    Judging by those locations

  15. TM™

    Something to bear in mind when we here another one of those bullshit arguments for the efficiency of capitalism and the free market economy*. If you can't provide your service cheaper (or even come close) to that in a war torn country than me thinks there are a lot of fingers in the pie.

    The cost of living argument is fairly moot when you consider that all the equipment will be coming from overseas (bought with that massively devalued currency these countries have) along with most of the expertise required to install and run it.

    * If only, most western broadband infrastructure is run by private monopolies that spend lots of money lobbying to keep things that way.

    But hey maybe I'm wrong, those photons and electrons don't pay for themselves. I also hear they are incredible heavy and difficult to move around.

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