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UK Named One of the Cheapest EU Countries for Mobile Broadband

Monday, Feb 25th, 2019 (2:45 pm) - Score 2,611

The United Kingdom has been named in a new study as one of the most inexpensive countries in the European Union for 3G and 4G based Mobile Broadband and call services, which is in no small part thanks to Three UK’s increasingly cheap data tariffs. By comparison the Czech Republic and Cyprus came out as the most expensive.

The study, which was conducted by empirica on behalf of the European Commission (EC), examined the 2018 retail prices of Mobile Broadband offers for consumers in the EU28 countries plus Iceland, Norway, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, and the USA (i.e. data was collected from the websites of all the largest primary network operators during February 2018).

The data also adopted price normalisation procedures so as to take “full account” of contractual features affecting usage costs such as one-off fees, discounts, contract duration, and limits for telephony call time, numbers of SMS, and data volumes. The results were then averaged by filtering them into different usage “baskets” (e.g. starting with data only plans on a 250MB allowance).

Overall the study found that prices for Mobile Broadband centric plans have “fallen significantly” across the EU since 2017 (the falls vary by basket from around -4% to -20%). Overall the most inexpensive countries in the EU were found to be Italy, Poland, Austria, France, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg and Finland.

Simple Summary

Averaging across all OECD usage baskets and distinguishing the four major clusters reveals the pattern.

• The inexpensive countries are: Italy, Poland, Austria, France, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, and Finland.

• The relatively inexpensive countries are: Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania, Sweden, Denmark, Bulgaria, Germany, and Spain.

• The relatively expensive countries are: Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Croatia, Malta, Portugal, Hungary, Greece, and Slovakia.

• The expensive countries are: the Czech Republic and Cyprus.

• No country is in the inexpensive or expensive cluster for all the OECD usage-baskets.

• Spain, Belgium, Ireland, Hungary, Portugal, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Cyprus have no offer belonging to the inexpensive cluster.

In the following table, green symbols indicate the cluster of countries with the least expensive offers for the usage basket in question, and red the cluster with the most expensive offers. Blue and orange are used for the cluster of countries with relatively inexpensive and relatively expensive offers, respectively.

EU and UK mobile broadband prices 2018

However it should be noted that the averaging technique applied here may be seen as giving prices for low-end usage baskets too great a weight. If, in contrast, only the higher-end usage baskets are taken into account, some countries change position. In particular, Denmark and Sweden move up the table. Here, MNOs offer reasonably-priced tariffs for unlimited data, messaging and telephony, but do not offer lower tariffs for capped usage, as do MNOs in many countries.

The above illustration only covers baskets with data allowances up to 5GB, although the full report does extend this to include some plans with 10GB, 20GB and 50GB allowances etc. Interestingly baskets with data allowances of 20GB per month saw the most significant decrease in prices.

We also get a country breakdown of what plans from which operators were selected for each basket in the comparison, which for a lot of countries shows a nice mix of different operators and plans. But in the United Kingdom all of the cheapest plans came from Three UK, which isn’t too surprising since that’s always been how they’ve positioned themselves.

dsm uk mobile broadband prices

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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10 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Michael V says:

    Yeah. I have Mobile broadband from Three, 10GB for £8!
    Also, 4GB for £9 with Unltd voice & SMS it’s rather great.
    We do have some great pricing.
    O2 offer great options for a plan tariff & a separate phone plan which no other MNO provide unfortunately.

    1. Avatar photo Mike says:

      Why not just have 1 sim and use hotspot?

    2. Avatar photo Michael V says:

      The 4GB SIM plan is a family member’s phone plan.
      The 10GB mobile broadband I got Christmas before last as, so I’m still in contract. My own phone plan I have unlimited data, so the last few months I do make use of that when I’ve used to the 10GB, but since having home fibre I don’t tether as much.

  2. Avatar photo John says:

    Without three in the UK we are probably the most expensive country for mobile data.

    1. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      Nowhere near thankfully.

  3. Avatar photo RobertM says:

    Good to see that in some regard when it comes to broadband we are near the top performing.

  4. Avatar photo EdwardH says:

    I can tell you from personal experience, 1GB sim only in Cyprus on the countries biggest network is €30, and they say that it’s cheap because they reduced the prices recently! The others are a tad cheaper, but still looking at €25+ for a GB of data per month.

  5. Avatar photo Name says:

    New day, new study!

  6. Avatar photo Emil Borconi-Szedressy says:

    I’m not sure what this study by takes in account but I know for fact that Telekom, which is one of the bug operators I. Romania offers unlimited 4g (national) for 5 euro/month, Orange has similar price so not sure how this report calls the cheap cheap…. Uk is doing ok, compared to Germany and Hungary it’s true but not the top of the league, unless you are on three and use feel at home in the US, but that’s different….

  7. Avatar photo Packet Switched says:

    Is there any comparison of how the number of competing networks in any country relates to the price for the services?

    I note that Austria is at the expensive end. And OFCOM blocked a merger that would have removed O2 here
    citing as a reason that that the number of networks there had become fewer and prices were not cheaper afterwards.

Comments are closed

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