Tarifica’s Data Dive – South America’s Mobile Data Pricing

Tarifica’s Data Dive – South America’s Mobile Data Pricing

South America’s Mobile Data Pricing: Chilean Consumers Face Lowest Costs for Using Mobile Data, Argentina Most Expensive Market

by Will Watts

As 5G networks continue to be rolled out in emerging markets and inflation is still a driving issue in consumers’ minds, the topic of mobile pricing is of key importance to mobile operators and telecom regulators. In this edition of Tarifica’s Data Dive, we review a recent Tarifica study which examined the pricing environment for mobile data across South America in order to answer questions like:

  • How does each country rank in terms of relative pricing? Which countries are the least and most expensive?
  • What is the relationship between price and data volume? How much operators typically discount their per-GB price for high usage consumers?
  • What is the typical cost for an entry-level mobile data plan? How much does this change by country?
  • What is the typical price spread between the highest and lowest mobile operators in the same country?

Overall Findings

Across the eight South American countries tracked for this study, Chile ranked as the lowest cost market in the continent – typically more than 35 percent less expensive than the average from its peer countries. On the other end spectrum, Argentina was found to be the most expensive market for mobile data in South America for all user types.

Country Rankings

Of the eight South American countries, Chile had the lowest mobile data costs across all monthly data offerings from 1GB to 5GB.

Chart created using data from Tarifica's Telecom Pricing Intelligence Platform

Chile’s four mobile operators – Claro, Entel, Movistar, and WOM – were all competitively priced. The pricing disparity among Chile’s operators was narrower than most of the other countries studied, with Chile’s costliest provider (Entel) offering rates that are just 17% more than its cheapest provider (Movistar).

After Chile, Peru and Brazil were close for second place – with an average rank of 2.83 and 3.00 respectively. Peru generally was competitive across all user types but performed particularly well for high data users – finishing second in the 20GB and 50GB profiles. Brazil was almost the mirror image of this, with only Chile offering less expensive rates for the 1GB, 2GB, and 5GB profiles, but then its prices became significantly more expensive for the higher data profiles.

Uruguay, Colombia, and Ecuador all rated as consistently in the middle of the cost spectrum across all user types, typically ranging between third and sixth for most profiles.

Coming in seventh was Paraguay, which ranked second to last in every profile aside from 50GB per month, where the country finished sixth of eight. That said, while Paraguay’s prices were high—typically around 50% higher than those from the six countries ranked above it—they generally had the same volume discounting structure for higher GB plans as Paraguay’s peers around the continent.

The same cannot be said for Argentina, which was the most expensive market in South America. The country had the highest prices for every profile tracked, with costs generally exceeding those in other countries. For example, for the 5GB user type, Argentina’s average cost was notably higher than the other countries in the study.

While higher mobile costs contribute to Argentina’s pricing, the larger issue appears to be the country’s struggles with inflation and general economic instability. Compared to its regional peers, many goods are more expensive in Argentina. These factors have collectively led to an increase in the effective cost of mobile service in the country over recent years.

Data Volume and Price Relationship

In most markets mobile data prices did not increase greatly between 1GB to 10GB per month. In general, there was almost no price increase between the 1GB and 2GB profiles, and there were only modest increases between both the 2GB and 5GB profiles, and the 5GB and 10GB profiles.

Table created using Tarifica's Telecom Pricing Intelligence Platform

This flat pricing structure appears to have been driven by the fact that many South American operators are no longer targeting users consuming less than 5GB per month. Now, 5GB comes standard with many base plans – with only a modest add-on or upgrade needed for consumers to reach 10GB. As such, most operators only employ modest price increases in the sub-10GB per month data range.

Beyond 10GB of data per month, the pricing environments in these countries split into two groupings:

In the first group were Chile, Peru, Uruguay, and Colombia, where prices only increased incrementally, even as data usage went up dramatically. In these markets, the monthly price of 50GB of mobile data costs an average of US $27.69 – which is only 41% more than the average price of 10GB of data.

In contrast to this was the strategy evident in the second group – Brazil, Paraguay and Ecuador – where prices scaled more linearly as usage increased. In these markets, 50GB of data was priced an average of 71% higher than 10GB.

Chart created using data from Tarifica's Telecom Pricing Intelligence Platform

Chart created using data from Tarifica's Telecom Pricing Intelligence Platform

It’s crucial to note that the pricing disparities observed for the 20GB and 50GB profiles do not strongly correlate with the pricing patterns seen in lower usage profiles. Take Brazil, for example, which is the cheapest market for 1GB, 2GB, and 5GB users, but significant price spikes loom for heavier data users. Conversely, Colombia ranks among the priciest options for light data users, yet its prices remain relatively stable for those needing higher data volumes.

About the Author:

Will Watts

VP of Product

Will is responsible for the planning, build-out, and maintenance of Tarifica’s data solutions, including the flagship Digital Intelligence Platforms. In his more than 10 years at Tarifica, he has successfully delivered custom projects and market analyses to clients such as GSMA, the World Bank, BEREC, Verizon and Telefonica.

For questions or comments about this analysis, please contact Penny Wiesman at