NZ’s mobile data is the third most expensive in the world

New Zealand’s mobile data is the third most expensive in the world. This is according to data from a Tefficient study that analysed mobile data usage and costs from 44 developed countries from all regions of the world.

The study shows that New Zealand’s mobile data is the third most expensive in the world (per gigabyte) with Belgium and Canada being the only countries where data is more expensive.

To double-check this claim’s accuracy, I performed a quick comparison, looking at the cost of unlimited data packages between New Zealand and the UK (which was closer to the middle of the rankings). I chose unlimited packages because they all come with unlimited data, texts, and calls, so there aren’t other factors contributing to the costs.

In New Zealand, the average cost of an unlimited data package, (taken from the three most popular telco companies) is NZ$81/month. In the UK, the average is £24/month (NZ$48/month) – it’s significantly cheaper.

Why is NZ’s data so expensive?

The study also showed that there was a worldwide increase in mobile data usage from 2019 to 2020. Even during the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic when most people were confined to their homes.

However, New Zealand had the third slowest growth in data usage, with a 20% rise from 2019 to 2020. This could be attributed to the fact that most people are inclined to use their home Wi-Fi in New Zealand as our wired internet connections are a lot faster than our mobile networks. Potentially due to the lack of 5G connectivity around the country.

While NZ has a similar landmass to the UK, it’s a nation of only 5 million people compared to the UK’s 66 million. Logic suggests there isn’t a big enough market here for our mobile data infrastructure to compete in terms of value.

A report performed by Vodafone New Zealand in October 2020, highlighted just how time-consuming and expensive it is to develop mobile data infrastructure in New Zealand. A single cell site can take 6-24 months to build and can cost anywhere between $250,000 to $1,000,000.

Another report made by Vodafone NZ showed that the company has 2.4 million customers signed up for its services. This is a tiny amount when compared to the number of customers signed up to the UK’s BT mobile service which is 29.56 million as of 2018.

Suggesting things aren’t about to change anytime soon.