Today, nearly half of the world's total population has potential access to some kind of 3G or 4G network, which is five times the level of mobile coverage we were at just five years ago. Unfortunately, not all mobile broadband is created equal—especially where price is concerned.
According to a new report released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that measured the monthly cost of 500MB of pre-paid, mobile-broadband data, developed countries are the proud owners of the most affordable mobile-broadband in the world... sort of. While Austria comes in at a $4.70 per month, the mobile-broadband dark horse of the developed world, the United States, hits a staggering $85—but then, most of you were probably already well acquainted with that absurd truth. The ITU measured the monthly prices as a percentage of monthly gross national income, so the cause of the massive disparity comes down to the market itself.
The Economist postulates that Verizon and AT&T being our only two legitimate players and the added cost of building over a larger terrain are what's making the United States' collective mobile bill so depressing. But even Russia only clocks in at $27.60 a month, so the size explanation alone seems unlikely. The Economost has created a great interactive map using the ITU's data, and you can play around with it yourself over at their website. [The Economist via Digg]