Maltese mobile phone users pay among the most expensive rates for data in any country in the world, a new global ranking has found.

With an average price of €16.61 for one gigabyte of data, Malta was placed in 209th place out of 230 countries in an analysis of more than 6,313 mobile data plans worldwide carried out by British comparison service Cable.co.uk.

The researchers analysed 29 SIM-only mobile plans offered by Maltese operators in October 2018. Among these, the cheapest means for consumers to obtain 1GB of data was recorded at €2 and the most expensive at €80.

Among European countries, only Switzerland, Cyprus and Greece were found to have more expensive data than Malta, while prices in Finland, the cheapest European country for data and the 14th cheapest globally, were 16 times lower than those in Malta.

Globally, India was found to have the cheapest mobile data plans of any country, with 1GB of data costing an average of $0.26 (€0.23). The most expensive place in the world to buy mobile data is Zimbabwe, where the average cost is $75.20 (€66.37) – 289 times as much as in India.

Only Switzerland, Cyprus and Greece have more expensive data in Europe

Commenting on the worldwide rankings, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk, said the cheapest countries tended to fall into categories.

Read: Would you spend €1,000 on a mobile phone?

In some, excellent mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure allowed providers to offer large amounts of data, which brought down the price per gigabyte. Others with less advanced broadband networks were heavily reliant on mobile data, forcing prices to remain low as that is what people could afford.

“At the more expensive end of the list, we have countries where, often, the infrastructure isn’t great but also where consumption is very small.

“People often buy data packages of just tens of megabytes at a time, making a gigabyte relatively large and, therefore, expensive amount of data to buy,” Mr Howdle said.

“Many countries in the middle of the list have good infrastructure and competitive mobile markets and while their prices aren’t among the cheapest in the world they wouldn’t necessarily be considered expensive by their consumers,” he noted.

Previous studies by the same researchers – working with partners including Google and Princeton University’s PlanetLab – have included a broadband speed test in 2018, where Malta ranked 46th out of 200 countries, and a broadband price ranking, with Malta placed 89th out of 195.

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