New study from broadbandchoices.co.uk looks at the quality, availability and cost of internet access in 169 countries to find the most connected countries, as well as those that face the biggest barriers to getting online.
Internet Accessibility Index
Between home broadband, mobile internet and free public WiFi hotspots, staying connected is easier than ever, but how does the quality and cost of internet access vary around the world?
We scored 169 countries using 10 different ranking factors, including average internet speeds, the cost and affordability of home broadband packages, and the cost of 1Gb of mobile data, to find the worlds most and least connected countries.
Reading the index
The Internet Accessibility Index is fully interactive, simply click on the column header to sort the index by individual data points. To reset the table, click the ‘Rank’ or ‘Accessibility Score’, or refresh the page.
We’ve highlighted some of the major factors included in our study in the table above, but to see all ranking factors, including the percentage of a countries population with broadband and mobile internet access, the number of free public WiFi hotspots and hotspots per capita, as well as what percentage of web pages written in a countries native language can be found here.
You can also download the data to browse offline, and an embed code is available via the sharing options in the top right-hand corner of the table.
To quickly find the results for a specific country, use the search bar at the top of the Index.
The most connected countries
With a strong performance across the board, Denmark has the most accessible internet in the world.
Unusually, Danish internet users enjoy affordable internet and some of the best connection speeds despite the market being heavily dominated by one provider - proving that competition isn’t always necessary.
Less than 0.1% off web pages are written in Danish, however, with a large majority of Danes speaking English as a second language, it’s unlikely to be a significant barrier to accessibility.
Liechtenstein boasts the world's fastest broadband speeds, with its median download speed of 187.35Mbps being almost twice that of second place, Denmark.
While the cost of a typical broadband package in Liechtenstein is around 101% more expensive than in the UK, it’s still among some of the most affordable in the world, accounting for 0.8% of the average monthly salary.
With more than 2700 internet service providers, the USA ranks well on infrastructure, however despite having a large number of ISPs, both monthly broadband and 1GB of mobile data are among some of the most expensive.
While a large number of internet service providers gives the illusion of choice, many consumers will find themselves picking between only a handful of providers as some only operate within certain states or don’t service rural areas.
Countries with the fastest internet connections
Claiming 8 of the top 10 spots, Western European countries dominate the list of countries with the fastest internet download speeds. In fact, all Western European countries featured in our study scored among the top third in the world.
While the region boasts the fastest regional average of 45.8Mbps, our findings show a significant digital divide across the continent with average speeds in Eastern European countries being 192% slower than those in their Western European counterparts with average speeds of 15.7Mbps.
On the other end of the scale, Timor-Leste (0.12Mbps), China (0.17Mbps), Equatorial Guinea (0.20Mbps), Ethiopia (0.23), and Yemen (0.26Mbps) had the world's slowest average download speeds.
The UK ranked 28th with an average connection speed of 20.06Mbps, while the United States finished in 13th place with 34.14Mbps.
Broadband Speed Vs Price - Countries that offer the best and worst value for money
Apart from Ukraine, the countries that offer the best value for money in terms of cost versus speed all ranked towards the top of the accessibility index.
Proving that strong infrastructure and accessible pricing are key drivers in creating an inclusive digital economy.
Of the countries with the worst value broadband, 7 of the bottom 10 are African Nations - 6 being Sub-Saharan Nations.
These countries are heavily reliant on mobile internet as a result of poor or overburdened infrastructure.
However, internet use is growing with companies including Huawei investing in the region.
The most and least expensive countries for 1GB of mobile data
Half of the countries with the highest mobile data costs are island nations - or in the case of Greece, consists of a number of islands.
Island nations or countries with particularly rugged terrain are more likely to use expensive satellite solutions rather than fiber optic networks, the cost of which is often passed on to the customer.
In many African countries, mobile internet is the primary way of accessing the web due to poor infrastructure and high monthly package costs. So to see African nations like Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe among the most expensive data pricing poses a real barrier to internet inclusivity.
The majority of the countries with the cheapest mobile data pricing such as India, Israel, and Denmark have good fibre optic networks, helping to keep service costs low.
In fact, Kazakhstan has one of the most advanced telecoms sectors in Central Asia.
However, countries like Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan who rely on mobile data to access the internet offer cheap data packages despite not having good fibre networks.
Rob Baillie from broadbandchoices.co.uk commented: “Our research shows a significant divide in not just the quality of internet access around the world but also it’s inclusivity, with a significant number of people being priced out of the market - potentially having huge ramifications on education and employment prospects.
“While there have been significant advances in communications technology in recent years, more needs to be done to connect rural and economically challenged communities, however, doing so will likely require higher levels of investment and more innovation than we’re currently seeing.
“Reliable and affordable internet access is vital in order to be competitive in an increasingly digital global economy, and with the coronavirus pandemic only speeding up the move towards digital industries, developing countries are at risk of being left behind.”
A full methodology document and data sources can be found here.