Vincent Chiu is a Technical Program Manager at Google.
Since 2012, Google has supported the study and publication of broadband pricing for researchers, policymakers and the private sector in order to better understand the affordability landscape and help consumers make smarter choices about broadband access. We released the first dataset in August 2012, and periodically refresh the data (May 2013, March 2014, and February 2015). This data has become an integral part of our understanding of global broadband affordability. Harvard's Berkman Center, Facebook, and others actively use the data to understand the broadband landscape. Today, we’re releasing the latest dataset.
For the mobile data set, we increased the number of countries represented from 112 to 157, and the number of carriers from 331 to 402. For the fixed-line dataset, we increased the number of countries from 105 to 159, and number of carriers from 331 to 424. This data covers 99.3% of current Internet users globally on a country level.
The collection methodology is designed to capture the cost of data plans. We collected samples from a broad range of light to heavy data usage plans, and recorded numerous individual plan parameters such as downstream bandwidth, monthly cost, and more. Finally, where possible, we collected plans from multiple carriers in each country to get an accurate picture.
- Price observations for fixed broadband plans can be found here.
- Mobile broadband prices can be found here.
We provide this information to help people understand the state of internet access and make data-driven decisions. Along with this data collection effort, we have analyzed these pricing data and conducted researches on affordability and Internet penetration. Our early results have indicated several topics deserving further discussions within the ICT data community, including metric normalization, income distribution, and broadband value. We believe:
- Normalization is essential for any meaningful statistical analysis. The diversity of plan types and the complexity of tariff structures surrounding mobile broadband pricing requires a careful analytical methodology for normalization.
- Income distribution needs to be considered when assessing the broadband affordability situation. The commonly used GNI per capita metric is based on average national income level, which does not consider inequality of income distribution. High broadband value-to-cost ratio is important to drive Internet adoption: beyond just affordability metrics, we need to take into account of broadband experience to define meaningful value-for-the-money metrics.
We look forward to sharing more findings on these topics in 2016. Please stay tuned for updates on our progress. If you have any feedback on the methodology, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org