For decades, we’ve suspected that living in Britain means we have to pay more than other countries for certain products and services.
The phrase “rip-off Britain” was coined in the 1990s, eventually being adopted by a BBC TV series and even emblazoned across a range of merchandise.
Yet the truth has often been rather different, as a study of mobile broadband costs carried out on behalf of the European Commission recently revealed.
The UK was one of the most inexpensive nations for mobile broadband and call services during 2018.
And if that surprises you, the reasons behind it make fascinating reading.
What did the survey look at?
The EC survey analysed two main costs – 3G and 4G mobile broadband, and call services – across all 28 European Union nations.
An in-depth analysis of contract costs factored in potential distortions like discounts or introductory charges, contract durations and data/call/SMS limits.
The results were then averaged out, with countries categorised as Inexpensive, Relatively Inexpensive, Relatively Expensive or simply Expensive in 13 categories.
These are the headline findings:
- Mobile broadband costs across the EU have plummeted by as much as 20 per cent since 2017
- Countries which offered cheap data deals tended to provide cheap handset talk time contracts as well, and vice versa
- Competitive deals from a single mobile network were often enough to improve a nation’s overall ranking in the table.
In the UK’s case, those deals came courtesy of Three. The report highlighted nine deals well below the EU average – four of them costing less than half as much.
Our website currently lists 30 SIM only deals from Three, ranging between 30 days and two years in length.
However, you don’t need to choose a specific network to enjoy affordable mobile broadband costs.
Simply living in the UK means you’ll be better off than the residents of many other nations…
The best and worst performers
When weighting and averaging was applied to the results, the UK achieved a highly respectable fifth place out of 28 nations for mobile broadband costs.
Italy and Poland were the cheapest nations for data and talk time contracts, closely followed by Austria and France.
The UK was in the Inexpensive category for two of the seven data categories (256MB through to 20GB).
It was also graded as Inexpensive across five of six typical handset contracts, ranging from 100MB of data and 30 minutes of calls through to 5GB and 100 minutes.
The worst performing nations included the Czech Republic and Cyprus, while other EU member states delivering poor value included Portugal, Ireland, Croatia and Hungary.
Anomalies arose, such as Denmark appearing in the Expensive category for modest data allowances and the Inexpensive category for data contracts over 5GB in size.
However, the results were generally consistent after applying averaging techniques.
That’s worth bearing in mind next time you begrudge the cost of a 1GB data top-up.