The internet is now so important in our lives that it is considered a basic human right. It gives us access to everything from financial services to health and education. In the future, it will connect us to 50 billion things, ranging from cranes to coffee machines.
But how much you pay for your broadband depends very much on where you live. And there can be a massive difference, according to a new study.
If you live in Burkina Faso, access to broadband is extremely expensive. Users have to pay almost $1,000 per month to go online. This West African country has a population of around 18 million, but according the UN, less than 10% of the population have access to the internet.
Out of the 196 countries studied, those in sub-Saharan Africa fared worst. Almost all of the 31 countries measured were among the most expensive.
Papua New Guinea has the second most expensive broadband. Users there have to pay over $500 a month. Like Burkina Faso, less than 10% of its population have internet access.
The internet is generally cheap in Eastern Europe. In the Ukraine it’s $5.51, while in Russia it’s only around $10 a month.
But in Western Europe, prices rise considerably. Germans pay an average of $34 every month for broadband. The UK is more expensive than that, at over $40. Italy is the cheapest with an average package of $29 per month.
Users in the United States have to fork out nearly twice as much as those in Germany, with a monthly bill averaging $66. But that’s still vastly cheaper than many other places.
Unequal access to the internet
Whilst internet use has rocketed in recent years – 3.78 billion and counting – over half of the world’s population (53.9%) still don’t have access. There are various reasons for this. Partly it’s due to a lack of electricity and other basic infrastructure, in other places it simply isn’t affordable to the vast majority of people, and in some cases users are illiterate or there is no content in their language.
Universal, affordable internet access is part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and governments, companies, local and international organizations and members of civil society are working to get more people online.