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UK broadband offers poor relative value for money

Importance of fibre push by UK broadband providers clear as research shows data speeds available to UK households have not significantly changed while prices have risen steadily

The UK’s leading broadband providers have started 2020 in a flurry of activity by announcing aggressive roll-out plans for fibre networks, but the country’s broadband offers compare badly with much of Europe, according to research from Cable.co.uk.

In its 2020 global pricing league table, the telecoms analyst studied 3,095 fixed-line broadband deals in 206 countries, recorded between 28 November 2019 and 8 January 2020, and found that the UK came fifth cheapest out of 29 countries studied in Western Europe and 71st cheapest in the world overall (out of 206), with an average package price of US$35.71.

However, due to lower average speeds compared with much of Europe, the UK fared worse in terms of value for money, coming in 23rd out of 29 countries in Western Europe, and 81st in the world, with a cost per 1Mbps of bandwidth per month, of US$1.07. This is 11 times the cost per 1Mbps per month in Sweden, and compares with US$0.20 in Portugal and US$0.21 in Spain.

In Western Europe, France has the cheapest broadband with an average package price of US$27.81 per month, followed by Germany (US$28.74), Andorra (US$32.65) and Italy (US$33.28).

Despite significant year-on-year ups and downs in broadband pricing in various countries worldwide, the average price of a broadband deal globally has fallen by 19.75% since the end of 2018, from US$58.22 to US$46.59.

The US was identified as one of the most expensive Western nations at 119th place overall, with an average package cost of exactly US$50.00 per month.

In North America, Canada offered the cheapest broadband on average (US$34.86), coming in 50 positions ahead of the US globally (US$50.00). Greenland provides the most expensive packages in the region with an average price of US$163.68 per month.

Meanwhile, three of the top five 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 third cheapest, with an average package cost of just US$7.35, or around a seventh the cost of broadband in the USA.

Sub-Saharan Africa fared worst overall in the survey with all but six of the 35 countries in the region sitting in the most expensive half of the table, with 17 in the most expensive quarter. Syria, meanwhile, currently offers the world’s cheapest fixed-line broadband, with an average monthly cost of US$6.60 per month.

Commenting on the findings of the research as regards to the UK, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk, said: “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 in absolute package cost terms.

“However, it is still heavily reliant on part-copper networks, coming rather late to the party when it comes to pure fibre to the home [FTTH]. This is no surprise when you consider that, apart from Virgin Media, which owns its own network, and some very small local providers, the speeds available to UK households have not significantly changed for the majority of the UK population in the past five to six years. Prices, meanwhile, have risen steadily.”

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