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infographic_the-cost-of-mobile-data-southeast-asia

Thanks to the work of the good folk at TechInAsia, particularly Kathrinna Rakhmavika, the great graphic found here and reproduced above illustrates the cost of data across the region.

There is a lot in that data. Some points I’d make is that I was unaware some of these countries had a minimum wage, and certainly if they do the enforcement mechanisms by the state would be, at best, extremely inconsistent and insipid. In this context the minimum wage reference, unless it was a vague allusion to the market minimum wage, is somewhat meaningless.

Then there is the number of hours worked to achieve payment equivalent to 1gb of data at local prices. This is provided as the number of hours of work at the (somewhat meaningless) measure of the minimum wage, but alternatively providing this as the required number of hours at the mean national wage (the average wage) or the number of hours for the nation’s modal wage (the wage received by the highest number of workers) may give very different answers.

There is also the issue that covering only income received from wages excludes those who receive their income from capital (and retirees and children). The data also avoids the cost of entry to accessing that data, eg the price of hardware and initial access costs.

My point is that at first glance this is, or was, an interesting graphic, but on closer scrutiny the numbers presented begin to look very shaky indeed on the story they are telling.

Note: As a supplementary comment on this post, the price of an additional 1gb data on a phone plan in Australia is around $10. With the minimum wage in Australia set at around $16 that equates to around 40 minutes of work, but the cost of that additional 1gb excludes the upfront and the baseline monthly fees to use it. That sounds unambiguous enough, but there are also packages that a quickly Google search and selection at random (like the one here) that presents options costed at (per 1gb) $3, $0.5 and (effectively) <$0.01 respectively. Of course if you used so much data that the cost is down to a single cent per gb then you a/ probably don’t need to work to pay for it, or  b/ can’t keep doing that as you cannot find time to go to work to pay for it, but that is a topic for a post on another blog.

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