Consumers living in the developing world face far higher broadband prices relative to those in western countries, a new study has indicated.
According to research conducted by Point Topic, subscriptions costs are up to 1,000 times higher in the most expensive markets, putting obstacles in the way of wider adoption.
Analysts discovered a stark contrast in broadband pricing between countries such as Switzerland, Japan and Sweden – where costs are relatively low – and the likes of Kenya, Bolivia and Pakistan.
Point Topic compared the cost of a 12 month subscription to the cheapest, and usually slowest, fixed broadband service in 64 countries around the world.
Converting prices to purchasing power parity equivalents for over 2,000 tariffs - and then combining the results with the gross national income per capita - enabled researchers to assess the relative affordability of web services.
Oliver Johnson, Chief Executive at Point Topic, said the analysis enabled the firm to see how much of an average yearly income in each country would be needed to pay a year's subscription for the cheapest option available.
"The results gap between rich and poor, the haves and have nots in broadband terms is revealing," he commented.
In Switzerland, just 0.07 per cent of an average wage is needed to pay for broadband costs, but in Kenya (79.25 per cent) and Bolivia (43.66 per cent) the costs are highly prohibitive to the majority of the population.
"It is in everyone's interest that broadband penetration keeps increasing globally," Mr Johnson stated.
"Governments gain revenue, businesses gain competitiveness and individuals get access to a wealth of benefits online. At a time when economic growth is a major challenge, broadband is a great mechanism to add a percentage point or two to GDP."
But how this is achieved is "the big question", Mr Johnson suggested.
"Mobile and satellite are great and offer access quickly and easily where other options cannot. However, data caps and high overage costs mean they have their limits but given the high cost of fixed infrastructure deployment, particularly outside urban areas, they are going to be part of the mix," he noted.
"There really is no option but central subsidy for many markets when it comes to broadband."
Mr Johnson said even the richest nations will have to "dig deep" to allow access to broadband for 100 per cent of their population.