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Italian mobile data charges lowest in Europe; Greek highest

Italy continued as the cheapest country in Europe for residential 4G and 5G services in second quarter of 2020, according to the latest study from Point Topic. lowest mobile data charges

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A comparison of the average monthly subscription charges offered by mobile broadband providers across the EU-28, Norway and Switzerland showed that Italians paid USD 17.27 a month for their 4G/5G plans in the April to June period compared to the monthly average of USD 73.62 in Greece.

 

Figure 1. Average residential 4G/5G monthly tariff in PPP$, Q2 2020

 

However, mobile operators in the Netherlands offered by far the lowest average cost per GB among Point Topic’s selected 6 mature markets, providing the best value for money to subscribers. Dutch mobile users received an average monthly data allowance of 123.4 GB for an average of USD 25.27 a month, meaning users paid USD 0.20 per GB, compared to USD 3.36 per GB in Germany, USD 0.90 in France, USD 0.30 in the UK, USD 0.26 in Sweden and USD 0.23 in Italy. In Slovakia, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Greece, on the other hand users pay a high monthly price for very low data allowance.

Figure 2 shows which countries are investing in higher speed and more advanced networks, including those using the LTE-Advanced technology as well as those which are rolling out 5G.

 

Figure 2. Average theoretical downstream speed on residential 4G/5G services, Q2 2020

 

For example, Switzerland was among countries who offered lowest average downstream speeds in Q1 2019, however, after introducing 5G services it offers the second highest average downstream speed of 760Mbps and the top 5G speed of 2Gbps.

The average speed in Italy also increased significantly after the 5G launch. The country now offers the highest average downstream speed of 1Gbps having overtaken Switzerland in Q4 2019. Denmark and Austria, among others, offer relatively low bandwidth, while being among the most generous markets in terms of data allowances. lowest mobile data charges

 It should be noted that Denmark is a special case. The 71Mbps refers to the maximum download speed that the Danish operators are allowed to market after agreement with the consumer ombudsman. In fact, TDC’s theoretical maximum speed in 2018 was 413Mbps.

Regional and country benchmarks lowest mobile data charges

The data will vary at a country level but when comparing the markets of Central & Eastern and Western Europe at a regional level, Western Europe came out on top in terms of the average data allowance with 167GB per month, compared to 116GB in Central & Eastern Europe. At the same time, customers in Western Europe were charged a lower average monthly subscription at $32.95 PPP. In Central & Eastern Europe, the same indicator was $37.26 PPP (Figure 5). Hence, the average cost per GB in Central & Eastern Europe was significantly higher at $0.32 PPP, compared to $0.20 PPP in Western European markets. In terms of downstream speeds, both regions recorded the same average speed of 242 Mbps.

Figure 3. Regional tariff benchmarks for residential 4G/5G services, Q2 2020

 

The mobile operators in Sweden offer consumers on average 145GB a month while the Netherlands follow with 123GB average allowance. For several quarters in a row the Netherlands offered the highest average monthly charge among the selected six markets but in Q3 2019 the prices dropped significantly, and the country is now the second cheapest with only Italy offering a lower average monthly subscription of $17.27 PPP. The Netherlands offers the lowest average cost per GB, currently at $0.20 PPP, compared to $3.36 PPP in Germany.

To compare the prices that residential customers pay for unlimited monthly 4G/5G data in various European markets, we selected the countries which offered such tariffs in Q2 2020.

Figure 4. Entry level monthly charge for unlimited data on residential 4G/5G tariffs, Q2 2020

 

The entry level unlimited data tariffs in the countries at the high end of the spectrum (Sweden) were 3.5 times higher than those at the low end (Switzerland). However, when customers paid $54.84 PPP for unlimited data in Sweden, they were purchasing 4G services with speeds up to 300Mbps, while in Switzerland they were charged $15.57 (PPP) for the advertised 4G speed of up to 10Mbps.

Country ranking

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/5G tariffs, Q2 2020
* Countries which now offer 5G

Point Topic has included a ‘variance’ column to indicate how different ranks for the different metrics are spread.  We see that the wide spread in Austria, Slovakia and Spain for example is represented by high variance.  At the other end of the scale countries like Poland, Sweden or Croatia rank rather consistently.

Why such market differences between countries?

There is no simple clear-cut explanation as many factors come into play. The length of time after the 4G/5G networks were launched, service take-up, the market shares of ‘standalone’ and of multi-play bundles, the extent of competition from fixed broadband services with comparable bandwidth, the availability and the cost of 4G/5G spectrum, the regulatory pressures to offer mobile broadband 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 and 5G offerings available in different European markets. A further statistical modelling would provide more insight into these differences.

The analysis in this report is based on residential tariffs.

 

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