Broadband Tariff Benchmark Report, Q4 2021
Updated: May 26
Point Topic tracks the changes in the standalone and bundled broadband tariffs provided by operators across the globe every quarter. This report presents the latest tariff benchmarks at the end of December 2021.
Our analysts have reviewed and interpreted this data to show pricing trends by region, country and technology.
We provide access to the raw data, as well as charts and tables for the tariffs offered. For more details see the Appendix.
What we measure
The tariff database covers all major fixed broadband operators across the globe. In total, we track over 300 operators from more than 90 countries across the world.
We use this data to report on global trends in tariffs and bandwidths offered. We also report on regional trends and variations across countries. The data can also be used to track changes in the tariffs offered by individual operators.
Standalone and bundled
We report tariffs where broadband is offered as the only service (standalone) and tariffs where broadband is offered with other services such as TV and telephony (bundled).
Residential and business
We report both business and residential broadband tariffs.
Within this report we look at differences between the three major fixed broadband technologies – copper, cable and fibre. The full tariff database also includes some wireless and mobile broadband tariffs.
Changes to reporting
We have now excluded all tariffs which report a monthly subscription charge higher than $5,000 (PPP) or which report no monthly subscription charge.
We have now excluded all VDSL tariffs from the DSL category and included them in the fibre category instead.
These changes do not affect the full tariff database, only Point Topic’s reporting of the tariffs.
For more details on methodology see the Appendix.
NOTE: From the end of 2019, we collect and analyse tariffs every second quarter rather than quarterly.
Global tariffs and bandwidths
We have compared the average subscription charges and corresponding bandwidths for different broadband technologies across the world. All prices are quoted in US dollars at PPP (purchasing power parity) rates to allow easier comparison.
Residential broadband packages
In twelve months to the end of December 2021, the average monthly cost of fibre based residential broadband tariffs decreased further, along with significant increase in the average bandwidth. Conversely, cable based products which had been decreasing in monthly costs in previous years, experienced a slight price increase although average downloads saw an increase as well. As in the previous periods, copper based broadband services became more expensive while the average bandwidth provided over copper increased only slightly (Figure 1).
In Q4 2021, the average monthly charge for fibre connections decreased by 9.9%, compared to Q4 2020. In the same period, the price of cable broadband increased by 1.2% while the average subscription to copper-based broadband services increased by 0.5%. Driven by the lower cost of fibre, over the 12 months to the end of December 2021 the average monthly charge for residential broadband services fell by 10.4% and stood at $82 PPP.
The average downstream bandwidth provided to residential subscribers has gone up by 32% in Q4 2021, compared to Q4 2020. The boost was caused by the increase in bandwidth provided over fibre and cable networks. In Q4 2021, the average download speeds over cable increased by 12.3%, as there were a proliferation of DOCSIS3.1 tariffs with gigabit speeds becoming available. In the same period, the average download speeds over fibre grew by 33.5%, compared to Q4 2020. We have recorded 397 residential gigabit tariffs (with downstream bandwidth of at least 900Mbps) in Q4 2021, compared to 367 in Q2 2021 and 335 in Q4 2020.
In Q4 2021, the combined average cost per Mbps on broadband packages provided over the three technologies dropped by 9% to $0.20 (PPP). The drop was caused by decrease in the average cost per Mbps of fibre which fell by -33.3% whereas cable technology only fell very slightly by -8.6% compared with previous periods. In terms of the cost per Mbps, copper remains by far the most expensive technology at $7.53 PPP, up by 1.2% since Q4 2020 (Figure 2).
Business broadband packages
A significant jump in the average bandwidth of fibre based broadband tariffs have had the largest effect on the overall average broadband speeds in the business segment.
In Q4 2021, the combined average download bandwidth grew by 25.7% compared to Q4 2020 and stood at 362Mbps. This was caused by the boost in the average speed over cable and especially fibre, 14.3% and 21.8% respectively. Copper maintained largely the same average download speed compared to the previous quarter (Figure 3).
The average monthly cost of business broadband subscriptions decreased on copper and cable platforms, -9.2% and -2.4% respectively. With the significant increase in the average bandwidth in fibre broadband services came an 11.1% increase in the overall average cost of business broadband compared to Q4 2020.
In Q4 2021, the average combined cost per Mbps on business broadband packages dropped by 15.1% and stood at $0.62 PPP. This decrease was caused to a large extent by fibre broadband connections becoming moderately cheaper. In comparison with Q4 2020, the average cost per Mbps of fibre connections dropped by 9.4% to $0.58 (PPP) while the cost of cable went down by 12.8% to $0.34 (PPP) (Figure 4). Copper connections became cheaper by 9.3% but less than one fifth of tariffs offered to businesses were still based on this platform.
Regional tariffs and bandwidths
In this section, we have compared the average subscription charges and corresponding bandwidths in different regions across the world. All prices are quoted in international US dollars at PPP rates to allow direct comparison between regions.
Residential broadband packages
For many quarters now, Asia-Pacific has retained its dominant position in terms of average bandwidth as operators in the region continue to push fibre services. In Q4 2021, the average bandwidth in this region was 1,355Mbps up from 856Mbps in Q4 2020. Southeast Asia, Western Europe and North America followed with around 400Mbps each, as deployments of fibre and ultrafast cable broadband continued (Table 1).
Middle East and Africa, where operators are focusing on mobile markets and technologies, had the lowest average fixed broadband download speed at 155Mbps, compared to 91Mbps in Q4 2020. Due to the limited supply of fixed broadband, it also remained the most expensive region. With still relatively low fixed broadband penetration, Latin America followed as the second most expensive market offering the second lowest average bandwidth at 254Mbps, up from 158Mbps in Q42020. Compared to 12 months ago, the average monthly charge for residential broadband has gone down in all regions except for North America and Western Europe. In the latter, the average cost increase was insignificant, given that the average bandwidth saw a large increase.
At a country level, Qatar, Switzerland and the Southeast Asian countries are at the top of the league by average bandwidth, with Western and Eastern European countries also being in the top ten (Table 2).
Nearly all of the same countries, albeit in a slightly different order, are also the ten cheapest for residential broadband in terms of average cost per Mbps being less than $0.10 (PPP) (Table 3), thus offering the best value for money to consumers. This compares very favourably with nearly $6.00 (PPP) in countries such as Iran and Pakistan, that are at the bottom of the ranking.
Business broadband packages
In Q4 2021, the lowest priced average monthly tariffs were offered to businesses in Eastern Europe and North America. Also, Western Europe remained dominant over Asia-Pacific by the highest average download speed at 502Mbps, offering the best value for money on business broadband (Figure 5).
Compared to Q4 2020, the average bandwidth increased in all regions while the average monthly charge for business broadband also increased in all regions. (Table 4).
In this section, we look at the average monthly tariff for residential broadband services across the world. The average tariffs include copper, cable and fibre broadband services, and cover both standalone and bundled services.
All tariffs are quoted in international US dollars at PPP rates to allow comparisons between countries.
Entry level, median or average?
We are using the three most common comparison aggregations:
The entry level tariff – typically ignores variations in bandwidth caps, time charging, actual bandwidth offered and overall availability of a tariff in the market. Best used to indicate the conditions at the low end of the market and best comparator if you’re looking at the market penetration for broadband overall or a particular technology.
The median tariff – the value in the middle of the count of all values in the set. Can be skewed by unbalanced reporting or data gathering. Useful as a general indication of the country market and for inter market comparisons.
The average tariff – doesn’t represent an amount anyone actually pays, skewed by extremes in price. The best single number for comparing whole country markets when you want to understand the range of options for the consumer.
There is a difference in the relative country performance depending on which metric is used and the variation can be significant.
The above chart (Figure 6) shows entry level, median and average values of all the residential tariffs in selected markets in Q2 2021. This highlights some of the issues we have outlined above.
The spreads in France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Russia, and Turkey indicate that it is relatively straightforward to get more bandwidth, at least in terms of cost, even though this may indicate that consumers on entry level tariffs are subsidising those on higher level tariffs. In India, Brazil, UK, and US the differences in price levels of various packages are much more pronounced.
Looking at the most expensive markets in terms of median tariffs we also see some variation in the entry level and average ones. Upgrading to higher tier tariffs is especially expensive in Qatar. Qatar however boasts the fastest average speeds at 5Gbps as mentioned in Table 2 above. High cost of fixed broadband is quite common in the African and Middle Eastern countries where the competition is low and mobile broadband is the technology of choice for accessing the internet.
Country ranking tables
Ranking countries using the average cost of broadband subscriptions is a straightforward idea but the variation in entry level versus median and average costs can be significant. To help provide an easy way of comparing directly we have taken the PPP data on the entry level, median and average tariffs, produced rankings and then compared the variance (Table 5).
We have included a ‘variance’ column to indicate how different ranks for the different metrics are spread. So we see that, for example, the wide spread in Iran, Israel and Bulgaria (big differences in entry level, average and median tariffs) is represented by high variance of the rankings. At the other end of the variance scale countries like Romania, Japan and China rank rather consistently.
However, it should be noted that this is only one set of metrics measuring one aspect of the broadband markets so conclusions should not be drawn in isolation.
To more directly represent the operator tariffs we collate, we have consolidated the tariff benchmark spreadsheets into a single file. This is available to subscribers to the Broadband Operators and Tariffs service – click here to access the full file.
A current data set of tariffs can be downloaded from our Broadband Operators and Tariffs service website at any time, and users can conduct their own analysis using this data.
If there is a particular element that you cannot find and you wish to have available, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coverage and methodology
The monthly rental prices have been analysed in terms of local currency and equivalent USD costs.
As of Q1 2007, a full set of tariff information is available for download as part of Point Topic's Broadband Operators and Tariffs Service. The data set contains the most up-to-date tariff information including such details as monthly rental, connection speed, equipment cost and service features. In Q1 2007, Point Topic began providing end of quarter tariff updates from the database, which clients may use for their own historical analysis. These are now incorporated into our benchmark report and are published simultaneously.
Entries within tariff data sets which do not have both a downstream speed and a monthly rental listed have been excluded from this analysis.
The PPP rates used are published annually by the World Bank for a selection of countries and are readily available to the public free of charge. Those PPP rates are published at the beginning of each year are used throughout the year and hence any quarterly changes in PPP rates are not taken into account during the analysis. Some retrospective adjustments to PPP rates were made during the period 2000–2010. All PPP rates during this period were updated accordingly.
Price comparison issues
This analysis is intended as a general indicator of the trends in pricing in major broadband countries. There are several additional variables that complicate the process of making a direct comparison of broadband prices. These need to be taken into account when making a more in-depth analysis:
ISP charges: Some operators include ISP charges in their monthly rental, whereas others do not and charge an additional cost. This is evident in the case of Yahoo Japan, where a separate ISP charge is billed to the customer. In instances where this clearly occurs, Point Topic includes the charge in the monthly rental.
Bundling: With the continuous competition in service price, ISPs are focusing on bundling value-added services in order to increase revenue. Since Q1 2007, an integrated tariff database file containing bundled services information is available as part of the Broadband Operators and Tariffs service. This allows a comprehensive analysis of bundled services and pricing which we introduced here for the first time in Q1 2007.
Tax charges: Sales taxes (such as value-added tax) are also included in the residential monthly rental by most operators, although this is not the case in North America where telecommunications taxes are charged on top of the monthly rental. There would be a slight difference in the rankings if tax costs were included in the quoted monthly rentals of North American operators.
Time limits: Many operators worldwide have begun introducing broadband packages that restrict the time spent online without additional charges. For a monthly flat rate, customers can enjoy 'free' broadband access at particular times of the day/night, or for a certain number of hours per month. Any time spent beyond that limit is charged at an hourly rate.
Download limits: Some operators offer entry level services with data volume limits. In most cases, these limits are generous enough so as not to affect light or medium users. Point Topic includes this type of service as a reasonable entry level service, since it does not involve adding a usage charge to the monthly cost for the typical user.
Subscribers can login to access the corresponding spreadsheets.