Switzerland, Latvia, Lithuania and Denmark stand out as being at the high end of data allowances but at the low end of monthly charges, providing the best value for money to subscribers. This is reflected in the average cost per GB of data in these countries being among the lowest in Europe.
Regional and country benchmarks
Among the selected markets, there is a notable difference between Sweden and the other five countries in terms of the average data cap. While the mobile operators in this country offer consumers on average 88GB a month, out of the six it has the highest average monthly charge, having overtaken the Netherlands this quarter.
Tariff benchmarks for residential 4G LTE services in six major European economies, Q4 2018
Having said that, the average cost per GB in Sweden is the lowest at $0.39 PPP, compared to $4.13 PPP in the Netherlands.
Average cost per GB in selected countries, Q4 2018 (in $PPP)
To compare the prices that residential customers would pay for unlimited monthly 4G LTE data in various European markets, we selected the countries which offered such tariffs in Q4 2018.
Entry level monthly charge for unlimited data on residential 4G LTE tariffs, Q4 2018
The entry level unlimited data tariffs in the countries at the high end of the spectrum (Croatia) were more than six times higher than those at the low end (Switzerland). However, when customers paid $50.13 PPP for unlimited data in Croatia, they were offered theoretical download speeds of up to 150Mbps, while in Switzerland they were charged $7.38 PPP for the advertised speed of up to 2Mbps.
Comparing countries by using the average cost of mobile broadband subscriptions is a straightforward idea but the variation in entry level versus median and average costs can be significant. To help provide an easy way of comparing directly we have taken the $PPP data on entry level, median and average tariffs, produced rankings and then compared the variance (Table 1).
Table 1. Country scorecard by residential 4G LTE tariffs, Q4 2018
We have included a ‘variance’ column to indicate how the different ranks for the different metrics are spread. We see that the wide spread in Ireland, Austria and Norway for example is represented by high variance. At the other end of the scale countries like Romania, Spain or Latvia rank rather consistently.
Why such marked differences between countries?
There is no simple clear-cut explanation as many factors come into play. The length of time after the 4G networks were launched, 4G service take-up, the market shares of ‘standalone’ 4G and of multi-play bundles, the extent of competition from fixed broadband services with comparable bandwidth, the availability and the cost of 4G spectrum, the regulatory pressures to offer 4G services in remote and rural areas as a priority, the demographic characteristics and life-styles of the users and the cord-cutting tendencies will all have influenced the 4G offerings available in different European markets. A further statistical modelling would provide more insight into these differences.