Here I'm interested in a use case of subscribers keeping a permanent connection open (24/7), but with negligible amount of messages. So I'm only concerned about price per connection, not price per message.
AWS API Gateway
$0.25 per million connection minutes
That's $1 per 4 million connection minutes.
There's 43200 minutes in a (30 day) month. So $1 buys you 4,000,000/43,200 =~ 93 connections.
For every $1/month, we can serve 93 users
$49 per 500 connections
$299 per 5000 connections
$1199 per 30,000 connections
That's approximately $1 per 10|17|25 connections.
For every $1/month, we can serve 10-25 users depending on plan size
$49 per 1,500 _UNIQUE_ monthly users
This plan is a bit different because it charges per distinct users ("a UUID (universally unique identifier) that connects at least once to PubNub in one calendar month"). It works fine if you have a permanent set of employees or paying users, but less so for a freemium setup as the connections won't be interchangeable - each new user will increment the user count even if they only try it for a few minutes. It's also not clear if 24/7 usage from all users would be considered excessive, but probably not.
For every $1/month, we can serve ~30 UNIQUE users
Services with less clear pricing
Firebase Cloud Firestore
Technically possible, but pricing model makes it too hard to guess, would need to benchmark it
No pricing information
Only shows free pricing
Anything else, please list them!
Not surprisingly, AWS comes out cheapest by a considerable margin, but it's important to note that these are just back-of-the-envelope calculations and it's a very crude pricing model that doesn't take into account tiers, actual messages, and other factors. And even then, pricing is only one of many things to consider. Also, look at service reliability, developer experience, support, how likely the service is to stick around, etc.