UK lags in broadband affordability

Study on broadband pricing from leading price comparison site finds Western Europe as a region expensive more generally, with no country in the region making it into the top 50 cheapest places in the world to get fast connectivity

While there is no doubt gigabit connectivity has been made available at an unprecedented rate across the UK over the past couple of years, gigabit services in the country are among the most expensive in Western Europe and the world in general, research from has found.

In its study, the global telecoms research firm gathered and analysed data from 3,703 broadband packages in 219 countries between 2 January 2023 and 1 March 2023. Sudan was found to offer the world’s cheapest broadband, with an average cost of $2.30 per month, but fellow African nation Burundi was the most expensive place in the world to get fixed-line broadband, with an average package price of $383.79 per month.

The 29 countries measured in Western Europe span the middle-to-lower end of the table of global broadband, with none in the top 50 and two in the bottom 50. The regional average price of $50.87 makes it the seventh-cheapest of the 13 global regions overall. The cheapest in the region was Malta ($27.41, 59th), followed by Italy ($28.69, 64th) and Portugal ($31.67, 69th).

The most expensive was Norway ($87.36, 185th), followed by the Faroe Islands ($83.59, 179th) and Iceland ($78.04, 170th). The UK came in at a lowly 76th-cheapest in the global table ($34.20) of broadband services, around four times the cost of broadband in war-torn Ukraine ($7.87).

The Baltics, comprising three countries, ranked entirely within the top 90, coming in fourth-cheapest overall regionally, with a regional average price of $23.59. Latvia fared best, in 24th place overall, with an average price of $15.44. Lithuania followed, in 38th place, with an average price of $18.97. Estonia trailed in third position, in 84th place and an average of $36.37 per month.

Four countries were recorded in Northern America, and all of them sit in the bottom half of the table. The region as a whole has an average price of $104.33, making it the most expensive region in the world. Canada was cheapest ($58.14, 136th), followed by the US ($59.99, 146th) and Greenland ($114.19, 199th). Bermuda was the most expensive in the region ($185.00, 214th).

All 14 qualifying countries in the Eastern Europe region were in the top half of the table, with one (Romania) making it into the top 10, and 11 others in the top 50. Overall, the region averages $19.22 per month, making it the second-cheapest region in the world. The cheapest three were Romania ($7.57, 5th), Bulgaria ($12.71, 16th) and Kosovo ($12.76, 17th). The most expensive three were Slovenia ($42.54, 98th), Czechia ($24.04, 51st) and Montenegro ($23.41, 48th).

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Some 27 countries were measured in the Asia (ex-Near East) region, which has an average price of $35.38. The study stressed that the region covers a vast expanse, and as such, pricing runs the full length of the table from top to bottom. The cheapest packages were found in seventh-place Iran ($9.35), eighth-place Nepal ($9.46) and 10th-place India ($10.11). The most expensive countries in the region were Bhutan ($120.38), Timor-Leste ($107.33) and Hong Kong ($80.51).

“It is not altogether too surprising that the most advanced, developed nations tend to have some of the most expensive broadband,” said Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at “After all, earnings are higher, and investment and roll-out of new technologies tends to be ahead of the curve – or so one would think.

“It is interesting, however, that the cheapest broadband in the world tends to be in Eastern Europe and CIS nations. These countries tend to have some of the most advanced infrastructure (high percentage of full-fibre FTTP coverage) and are somehow able to offer it to users at very low prices,” he said.

“In a way, it obliterates the notion that regions such as Western Europe and North America pay more because of the cost of rolling out new technologies, and actually points more readily to the idea that people in these countries are made to pay more simply because they can.”

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