Mobile data prices – South Africa vs The World

Data prices in South Africa are generally thought to be expensive by local smartphone users.

The price of data makes it particularly difficult for South Africans to perform tasks like watching YouTube or transferring files on their smart devices without being tethered to a Wi-Fi connection.

In a country like South Africa, access to fixed broadband is a luxury that much of the population cannot access due to connections not being available where they live along with prohibitive prices.

This makes data packages the only option for these consumers, which can be far more expensive on a per-GB basis.

Why data prices aren’t falling

Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub recently said that the main reason for data prices not falling is that the government has not allocated new mobile spectrum for 14 years.

“Lengthy delays in completing the digital migration and allocating 4G spectrum has curbed the pace at which data prices could have fallen,” Joosub said.

The allocation of spectrum has been hampered by incompetence as well as a revolving door of communications ministers, with the country having appointed 11 people to the position over the past 11 years.

Once mobile carriers receive spectrum, the benefits would be apparent to South African consumers almost immediately, Joosub said.

Vodacom, he claimed, would be able to roll out infrastructure promptly – particularly to areas with coverage issues.

How South African data prices compare globally

While South Africans often bemoan the high price of mobile data, it turns out that South African data prices aren’t much more expensive than those of many other countries.

Cable, a UK mobile broadband comparison website, has released an in-depth investigation into the price of mobile data across the world.

It compared and analysed 6,313 mobile data plans in 230 countries to rank countries by the price of 1GB of mobile data.

South Africa was positioned 143rd out of the 230 countries with an average data price of R106.20 per GB – which, surprisingly, is under the global average of $8.53 (R126.39).

According to the study, India offers the cheapest data prices in the world, with a price of just R3.84 per GB.

Below are the average prices for 1GB of data in various countries including South Africa.

Prices are converted to South African rand and ranked from cheapest to most expensive.

Price of 1GB Prepaid Mobile Data
Country Price
India R3.84
Russia R13.44
Egypt R22.01
Italy R25.56
Australia R36.48
France R44.16
UK R98.37
Germany R102.80
South Africa R106.20
Japan R123.18
New Zealand R144.60
Canada R177.53
United States R182.70
Greece R483.13
Zimbabwe R1,110.70

Now read: Air Mobile vs MTN vs Vodacom – Data bundle prices

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Mobile data prices – South Africa vs The World