It’s not all about rank


Posted by Shazna Zuhyle on March 27, 2019  /  0 Comments

Method. Method. Method.
 
But it seems that rankings and the publicity that ensues takes precedence.
 
Any methodology, for it to be meaningful, needs to be transparent and to the extent possible ensure comparability. I have critiqued Cable’s fixed broadband method published in 2018. Some suggestions were taken on board with changes being made to the method adopted in 2018 and words of caution added for those who wish to carry out fair cross-country comparisons. This year for the first time they released their mobile data pricing league table, with the methodology publicly available. So when claims such as “Cable.co.uk has ranked Pakistan at number 33 based on its calculation of average price of 1GB mobile data @ USD 1.85 per month, which is not correct.” are made (source) one expects the author to have followed the same method used by Cable to verify accuracy.

In this case however, it is noteworthy that despite having some of the highest tax rates in the region for 2017 (based on latest available data published by ITU), the per GB rate was in fact the lowest in the region at USD 0.78 per GB for mobile broadband. However, based on the ITU method (i.e. cheapest plan that fits some base criteria at the time of data collection offered by the mobile network operator with the highest market share) and despite the removal of taxes in Pakistan, the price per GB rose to USD 1.67 per GB. Therefore, based on the ITU method Pakistan does not have the cheapest per GB rate for mobile broadband in South Asia.

2017* 2018**
Country Service Provider Tax % Data (GB) Price  (USD) Price per GB (USD) Service Provider Tax % Data (GB) Price (USD) Price per GB (USD)
Afghanistan Roshan 0 1.5 5.15 3.52 Roshan 0 2 4.65 2.32
Bangladesh Grameenphone 21 0.5 1.85 3.79 GrameenPhone 21 1.5 2.77 1.84
Bhutan Bhutan Telecom 5 0.8 1.52 1.82 Bhutan Telecom 5 1.7 2.95 1.74
India Bharti Airtel 18 1.0 2.78 2.78 Reliance Jio 18 42 2.10 0.05
Maldives Dhiraagu 6 0.5 6.82 13.97 Dhiraagu 6 2.5 15.92 6.37
Nepal Ncell 13 0.2 2.68 10.98 Ncell 26 1 4.03 4.03
Pakistan Mobilink 19.5 2.0 1.52 0.78 Jazz 0 1.9 3.17 1.67
Sri Lanka Dialog 19.74 2.0 1.56 0.78 Dialog 19.74 2 1.93 0.96
* 2017 data published by the ITU, available at MISR 2018
** 2018 data collected by the author using the ITU methodology

When any claim is being made such as, “Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has evaluated monthly plans / packages offered by mobile companies in Pakistan and average price of 1GB turns out to be only USD 0.72.” it ought to be backed by the method used to arrive at these figures, in the least.

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