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African countries have world’s most expensive broadband

A survey of 196 countries has found many of the world’s poorest consumers are being forced to pay sky-high costs for fixed broadband services

The world’s most expensive fixed line broadband services are to be found in the western African state of Burkina Faso, where the average monthly cost of a broadband package is around $965 (£730), putting internet access out of reach of all but the wealthiest members of the country’s elite, according to a survey.

The study of 196 countries around the world was conducted by BDRC Continental and broadband comparison site earlier in 2017, and found consumers in countries across sub-Saharan Africa were frequently being charged well over $100 per month, including Angola, Gabon, Mali, Namibia, Niger, Somalia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

People living in Oceania are also frequently charged extremely high prices for broadband, including in Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. Other small island states around the world, such as Barbados, the Comoros, Haiti, the Maldives and the Seychelles also tend to have more expensive services than average.

The cheapest services in the world are often found in countries that formed part of the Soviet Union before its break-up in the early 1990s – consumers in Russia and Ukraine pay under $10 per month, while broadband users in Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Moldova and Tajikistan all pay less than $20 on average.

Other countries at the cheaper end of the scale included Israel, at $21 per month, Nepal, at $19, and Egypt and Syria, at $12. The cheapest average broadband in the world was found in Iran, where users can expect to pay just over $5 per month.

In the UK, which placed 63rd on the global league table, consumers can expect to fork out an average of $43 every month, putting the country 15th out of the 28 members of the European Union (EU).

The cheapest services in the EU were in Latvia, Poland and Romania, but consumers in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia and Slovenia all pay less on average than the Brits.

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However, the UK was found to be cheaper than most of the rest of the English-speaking world, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and the US.

“In the UK, there can be no doubt there is still a significant number of people who feel they are paying too much for a service that’s less than adequate. However, the hugely popular narrative that the UK has awful, expensive broadband simply isn’t true,” said Dan Howdle, Cable consumer telecoms analyst.

Alongside metrics on average broadband speeds released earlier in 2017, Howdle said that, generally speaking, the UK was not in a terrible position, being ranked both in the top-fifth fastest and the top-third cheapest in the world.

“With a healthy, open marketplace offering very cheap broadband deals to everyone, and so-called ‘superfast’ speeds to almost 96% of homes, the UK is doing considerably better than the majority of countries around the world,” said Howdle.

The data showed that in reality, both national marketplaces and broadband infrastructures were basically imperfect no matter where you are located, he suggested.

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