Many countries pay less for mobile data, but the U.S. isn't as far behind as it may seem
In terms of raw prices, the U.S. ranks among the highest in the world in the cost of phone data plans. According to research by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) the average phone plan with 500MB of data costs $85 in the U.S., compared to $24.10 in China and $8.80 in the U.K., in terms of U.S. dollar Purchasing-power Parity (PPP).
The Economist has created a great interactive map showing off the price disparity across the globe, which illustrates how far behind the U.S. is in terms of the price of mobile data. Again in terms of the raw price of purchasing mobile phone plans with data, the U.S. is in the company of countries like Botswana, Angola and Morocco, where it can cost anywhere from $80 to $110 to have a phone with just 500MB of monthly mobile data.
The cheapest countries around the world to pick up a phone plan with data are India, Indonesia, Germany, Italy, and the U.K., each costing around $10 (again USD at PPP) for that same plan that costs $85 in the U.S. The cheapest data collected by the ITU was in Austria, where $4.70 gets you a phone plan with 500MB of mobile data.
The fixed prices don't tell the whole story though, of course. Although in nominal terms the average U.S. consumer is paying drastically more for a phone plan that even developing nations, the percentage of a person's income that it costs is still very low. That $85 phone plan is just 2.1 percent of the Gross National Income (GNI) in the U.S., whereas in Botswana it is 9 percent. In Morocco, it's 20 percent.
When looking at countries that have mobile data prices under 2.5 percent of GNI, the U.S. is back in familiar company with Canada, Mexico, most all of Europe and Russia. Though these cheaper European plans may be in the range of 0.5 to 1 percent of GNI and therefore still dramatically cheaper than the U.S., those of us in the states may not have it as bad as we might think.
Source: The Economist