US iPad Users are Overpaying for their Data Plans

Priya Ganapati
July 30, 2010

iPad users in the US are being ripped off. This visualization shows that US users pay some of the highest prices in the world (by $/GB) for their monthly data plans. Click around and explore to see who has the best (and worst!) data rates worldwide.

Small, dense countries like Hong Kong and Singapore manage to offer plans at less than 1/20th the cost (per gigabyte) in the US. Apples to oranges perhaps, but even the UK manages to offer plans for 1/5th the cost. This is even more frustrating given that the majority of iPad users are in the US. Don't we get a volume discount?

On the other hand, French iPad users are paying $25 a GB minimum. Maybe we shouldn't complain...


The Canadian figure isn't really representative. That's the special rate that Rogers and Fido always roll out when a new iPhone (in this case, iPad) is released. It's only around for 3 months. If you buy an iPad 3G in a couple of months, you'll be paying $30 for 500MB which is the industry standard up here (except for Wind which offers unlimited for $50 - but you can't use their network on the iPhone or iPad since it's AWS 1700).

That's not actually true. This figure is based on an ipad-only $35/5GB non-limited time plan, which is different from the special iPhone $30/6GB plan that you mentioned.

Drei in Asutria is the same as 3 in UK, Ireland and Australia (drei german for three)

1gb/4eur no basic fee from and are missing

Nice comparison! How did you come up with the numbers for o2 Germany, though (these are the only numbers I checked right now)?

You write it's $1.09 per GB. o2 Germany has three dedicated iPad data plans and the cheapest (per-GB wise) costs 25€ for 5GB. So, that's around $6.58/GB.
Non-iPad data plans are priced very similarly, so I don't think you looked at one of those either.

And then there's the fact that all of o2's plans (Vodafone Germany's too, for that matter) are basically "unlimited" data plans that are throttled above x GB (5GB for the above data plan). So in this case, it really should be "$6.58/non-throttled GB".

Ah, scrap that. I only just read that you assumed a cap of 30GB for unlimited plans. :)

Of course, the German data plans are not really unlimited but get slow (non-3G) after only a couple of GBs, so I don't know if you can compare all these different data plans this easily.

Belgium is poorly represented here - Mobistar is the most expensive provider (catering more for the Business crowd), while the two other providers (BASE and Proximus) would be cheaper. Phones must be unlocked in Belgium under law, however Mobistar is probably the only provider actively marketing the device so perhaps that's why they're the only network mentioned for Belgium.

There is one other thing that concerns me here - I wish this graph was adjusted for cost of living. Australia may seem cheap for example, but for Australians it is still very expensive. Big Mac index, anyone?

Still, this is a very cool idea!

Bless Finland for its mobile networks and unlimited data plans. They're running campaigns for 2,95 eur/month for 384 kbps, or 13,90 eur/month for "unlimited" (up to 14,4 Mbps — practically I've seen 4-6 Mbps). That's on 2-year contracts though, and these are regular SIM cards, so you'd have to mod one into an iPad... just saying.

Thanks, Simon. You are right on the Mobistar data. If you walk into an Apple store thats the only plan that they will tell you about. It is wonderful that you have the flexibility to switch though.

I had no idea this was the case- thank you for letting me know. This has been quite an experience as I have seen the response to this viz I continue to learn about these nuances that carriers throw in. Regardless of location mobile carriers are all sharks (it seems).

My apologies if I did miss anything. Outside of the US the scale of competition is quite staggering and therefore difficult to completely cover.

As this table is being copied on several other websites, it would be useful if you could update it.

As someone noted: You've only mentioned Mobistar for Belgium, but there are much cheaper data plans as well, for example Mobile Vikings (€12/GB or $15.73/GB) or Proximus (€10/500MB or $13.11).

If you could add these, would be great :-)