The state of 4G & 5G pricing, 2H2019: more-for-less
October 2019

The introduction of 5G has supercharged the transition to a basically unlimited everything model. But despite all the more-for-more buzz gigabyte allowances continue to grow while monthly prices continue to fall.
  • 67 operators sold truly unlimited smartphone or wireless broadband plans in 29 out of 41 EU28 & OECD countries.
  • Which were the operators that sold truly unlimited data volume plans and at what price?
  • 26 operators sold 5G smartphone or wireless broadband plans in 14 out of 41 EU28 & OECD countries.
  • How many of these 5G plans packed unlimited volume and did operators sell 5G at a premium or priced it in at no extra cost?
How much 4G gigabyte prices have fallen the last 6 years and how much lower are 5G than 4G gigabyte prices?
  • 4G gigabyte prices have fallen off a cliff across all 41 EU28 & OECD countries the last 6 years.
  • The median gigabyte price in OECD countries fell from 11.5 EUR/GB in 2014 to 2.0 EUR/GB in 2019.
  • By 2019 the country median gigabyte price in ultra-competitive 4-MNO European markets had fallen to 0.2 EUR/GB.
  • The median gigabyte price of 5G smartphone plans – half of which packed truly unlimited volume – was 0.2 EUR/GB.
Gigabyte prices in 4-MNO markets continue to fall faster than in 3-MNO markets
  • As we reported earlier, gigabyte prices in 4-MNO markets are much lower than in 3-MNO markets and have been falling faster. By October 2019 the gap between the median gigabyte price of 4G & 5G smartphone plans in 3-MNO versus 4-MNO markets widened further to 123%. It was 113% in April 2019, 81% in October 2018 and 55% in April 2018.
Key market developments
  • While the Canadian median gigabyte price in smartphone plans fell during the second half of 2019, Canada’s competitiveness among the EU28 & OECD countries further worsened. Canada was ranked as the country with the fourth highest median gigabyte price in April 2019. In October 2019 Canada became the second most expensive country.
  • Italian gigabyte prices continued to fall off a cliff following Iliad’s seismic launch as the new 4th MNO. The country median gigabyte price was down 22% compared to April 2019, 66% compared to October 2018 and 90% compared to April 2018.
  • Dutch gigabyte prices have stopped falling after the unconditional approval of the T-Mobile and Tele2 4 to 3 merger. The country median gigabyte price in the Netherlands was marginally higher in October compared to April 2019.
  • In Czechia the recently launched 4G smartphone plans - some of which include unlimited data volume - did not significantly improve the overall competitiveness of the mobile market. Czechia’s October 2019 rankings were worse than those we presented in September 2019 public study that was commissioned by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Czechia.
How many gigabytes 30 EUR buys in 4G & 5G smartphone, mobile broadband and home broadband plans?
  • During October 2019 in 12 EU28 & OECD countries 30 EUR bought a smartphone plan with truly unlimited data volume.
  • 59 operators sold 4G or 5G smartphone plans that packed truly unlimited mobile data volume in 27 out of 41 EU28 & OECD countries during October 2019.
  • Vodafone sold the cheapest 4G (14 EUR) and as well cheapest 5G (17 EUR) smartphone plan with unlimited data volume.
  • During October 2019 in 14 EU28 & OECD countries 30 EUR bought a mobile or wireless home broadband plan with truly unlimited data volume.
  • 32 operators sold 4G or 5G mobile or wireless home broadband plans with truly unlimited mobile data volume in 19 out of 41 EU28 & OECD countries during October 2019.
  • The cheapest 4G mobile broadband plan that packed unlimited data volume was sold in Switzerland (9 EUR/month).
  • The cheapest 5G wireless home broadband plan that packed unlimited data volume was sold in the UK (23 EUR/month).
What is wrong with competition in the Canadian and US markets?
  • 30 EUR (˜44 CAD) bought consumers only 5 gigabytes in smartphone plans and only 4 gigabytes in mobile or wireless home broadband plans in Canada, a de-facto network duopoly, during October 2019.
  • 30 EUR (˜33 USD) bought consumers only 12 gigabytes in smartphone plans and only 10 gigabytes in mobile or wireless home broadband plans in the US, a soon 4 to 3 consolidated mobile market, during October 2019.
  • The median smartphone plan gigabyte price in Canada was 18 times higher while in the US was 14 times higher than the median prices in 4-MNO competitive large European markets.
Median gigabytes prices in mobile or wireless home broadband plans
  • The median gigabyte price of 5G mobile and wireless home broadband plans – most of which packed truly unlimited volume – was 0.05 EUR/GB during October 2019.
  • The median gigabyte price of 4G & 5G mobile and wireless home broadband plans in EU28 countries fell from 0.60 EUR/GB in April 2019 to 0.56 EUR/GB in October 2019.
  • The median gigabyte price of 4G & 5G mobile and wireless home broadband plans in OECD countries fell from 0.96 EUR/GB in April 2019 to 0.78 EUR/GB in October 2019.
  • The US and Canadian median gigabyte prices of mobile and wireless home broadband plans are 9x higher than the median gigabyte price in EU28 countries.
Monthly prices of 4G & 5G smartphone plans with truly unlimited data volume – October 2019
Monthly prices of 4G & 5G mobile or wireless home broadband plans with truly unlimited data volume – October 2019
How many gigabytes €5, €10, €15, €20, €25, €30, €40, €50, €60, €70 and €80 could buy in EU & OECD markets? - smartphone plans
How many gigabytes €5, €10, €15, €20, €25, €30, €40, €50, €60, €70 and €80 could buy in EU & OECD markets? - mobile broadband or wireless home broadband plans?
5G smartphone plans sold in EU28 & OECD countries during October 2019
5G mobile or wireless home broadband plans sold in EU28 & OECD countries during October 2019
4G & 5G smartphone plans with truly unlimited data volume (1,000 gigabytes or no fair usage limit)
4G & 5G mobile or wireless home broadband plans with truly unlimited data volume
Vodafone’s 4G & 5G smartphone plans across all of its 12 EU28 & OECD markets
Vodafone’s 4G & 5G mobile or wireless home broadband plans across all of its 12 EU28 & OECD markets
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