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India mobile data plans: At $0.09/GB, India’s data plans cheapest

India continues its run as the market with the cheapest mobile data services worldwide. Moreover, India has also lowered the average cost of 1GB of data by about 65% since November 2018, as operators offer large-sized plans.

At Rs 6.7 ($0.09) per gigabyte (GB), the average cost of mobile data in India is cheapest in the world, according to the Worldwide Mobile Data Pricing report for 2020 by UK-based price comparison firm This is also about 65% cheaper compared to Rs 18.5 ($0.3) per GB, which was the cost of data in India in 2018, according to the study.

Meanwhile, 1GB of data costs $0.09 in India compared to an average $8 in the US and $1.4 in the UK. The global average cost of data stood at just over $5 per GB.

The dip in cost is despite the recent hike in tariffs by telecom operators to combat financial stress as the data packages offered by Indian telcos are larger compared to global benchmarks. India, for instance, is offering plans with caps in the hundreds of gigabytes, or even completely unlimited, the study said.

“Generally, providers (in India) are offering larger data packages than they were the time before (when we last measured),” consumer telecoms analyst Dan Howdle told TOI. “More data for the same or similar cost means a cheaper 1GB.”

“As a country whose young population has a particularly high technological awareness, India offers a vibrant smartphone market, with strong adoption and many competitors. Data, therefore, is quite staggeringly cheap,” he adds. analysed data from 5,554 mobile data plans in 228 countries between February 3 and February 25 (prior to the pandemic). The most expensive place in the world to buy mobile data is the island of Saint Helena, where the average cost of 1GB is $52.5 — 583 times as much as in India. Asian nations make up a third of the top 20 cheapest countries for mobile data, with Sri Lanka ($0.5) and Vietnam ($0.6) also in the top 10.

Data prices in India have been lower than global benchmarks for a few years now given the entry of Reliance Jio, a fierce price war between telcos, and a large base of smartphone users. However, industry trackers say current mobile data tariffs may be economical for consumers but are not sustainable for the stressed sector.

“The declining price trend is unhealthy for the industry. There is a need to have stable pricing so that operators have adequate cash flows to keep the operations up and running,” consulting firm techArc’s founder Faisal Kawoosa said.

Earlier this year, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) wrote to the sector regulator Trai, batting for a floor price on data tariffs till the industry’s financial stress eases.

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