Over the past decade or so, the collective technological achievements of the entire world have skyrocketed (in some sense, maybe even literally). What was once considered something out of a Utopian or a dystopian sci-fi movie, or even pure magic is now at the helm of humanity. According to Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” This statement is and will continue to stamp itself as the objective truth to anyone unfamiliar with what they’re witnessing – while the field experts could just nudge it off as some scientific, engineering marvel, albeit being impressed with the achievement. Even though we’re far off the zenith of our technological possibilities, we have reached a point where the industry can and more importantly should emphasize two more aspects besides improving the existing product/service – accessibility and sustainability. In all honesty, this is absolutely not applicable for each and every sector like EV (Electronic Vehicle) since the proposal of the aforementioned facets is a relatively far-fetched idea for now. But, it is high time that industries like smartphones, computer, internet, etc. – those that can have a meaningful and an almost instant impact on people’s lives must incorporate such principles in their product line. Let’s start things off with the internet. Even though it’s something that gained the mainstream momentum almost three decades ago and something that holds the ability to connect people between individuals in different parts of the world, the global internet penetration rate is still inaccessible to many households. The latest Q2 2020 report from “Internet World Stats” shows that as of June 30, 2020, only 4.83b (or 62%) out of 7.79b population have access to the internet. Even though we’ve seen a 1,239% growth in the past couple of decades, the current state is still far from what many would call ideal. As one might expect, the highest percentage of internet usage comes from developed regions like North America (90.3%) and Europe (87.2%), while continents like Asia (58.8%) and Africa (42.2%) with a vast population of under-developed, developing countries lag behind. This is especially alarming considering how COVID-19 has left many companies worldwide to shift their operation on a work-from-home basis; consisting of frequent video calls between the team. So, to be the absence of availability or affordability of the internet is, to put it gently, concerning. People getting cooped up in their houses as a direct result of government-mandated lockdown, home quarantine, etc. also boosted the global internet usage – especially in regards to VOD (Video on Demand) streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max, etc. To bring in some statistics, Netflix raked in 16 million new subscribers to its platform in Q1 2020 which is the biggest jump in the growth of its userbase in Netflix’s history. But entertainment is far from what the internet should account for. Bandwidth is a precious resource and purportedly using it up in a relatively unimportant sector such as this, could result in some devastatingly unexpected outcome. Because of this, such platforms decided to bring down the video quality for streaming fearing bandwidth scarcity in such a sensitive time. Like I said earlier, the Internet's potential is also being realized in crucial sectors like healthcare. The most common example of them all – remote learning is only possible if students and the faculty members have efficient access to the internet. Similarly, people in remote areas where they don’t have easy access to medical facilities are now being connected to healthcare professionals using the internet. This idea of telemedicine (or telehealth) is one of the few instances where some technology truly makes the world a better place. As you could imagine, it’s the people in regions like Asia and Africa that are making use of such advancements the most. But the contradicting fact regarding the internet availability is disheartening. Back in 2016, the UN (United Nations) had already declared the internet as a human right. Although it’s upon individual countries to put that into their own legislation, it’s clear that for now, wide internet access to its citizens doesn’t hold priority against other seemingly more pressing matters. However, many companies around the world are working individually (or in tandem) to tackle this issue of internet access and its affordability. Yeah, that’s right – just being able to go online isn’t going to matter much, if people have to spend a considerable amount to access it. The latest report from Visual Capitalist gives more insight into what 1GB of mobile data costs in every country. Surprising no one, India ranks as the least expensive country for 1GB data where the average price between telecos is just 9 cents. What’s more impressive is the fact that this is a 65% drop compared to the average cost in 2019 in the country. This has been possible thanks to the sheer competition from different network operators like Reliance Jio, Airtel, etc. and India’s push towards digitization. The same data puts Nepal in the 29th spot with the average cost of 86 cents for 1GB of data. On the other hand, Malawi, an African country ranks first on the opposing spectrum with an average of a whopping $27.41 for 1GB data. That’s devastatingly expensive considering the country’s GDP per capita of just 1292 Int$ according to IMF’s (International Monetary Fund) 2020 estimate. Compared to this, Nepal’s statistics look and sound a lot better, but we still need to do a lot better especially seeing how people in remote areas are still unaware of the possibilities of the internet. Companies like Google, Facebook, Starlink, etc. have been working towards global accessibility towards inexpensive internet. The first two are already providing free internet to different remote and needy parts of the world. For instance, under the project “Free Basics”, Facebook has been providing free internet access to different parts of the world like Algeria, Cameroon, Kenya, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, etc. Using the Free Basics app, people in certain regions of the aforementioned countries can access services like Facebook, AccuWeather, BBC News, UNICEF, etc. absolutely free of cost. Now, while this doesn’t necessarily encapsulate the idea of free internet, it’s an admirable start regardless. Considering the former, India denied Facebook’s proposal of “free” internet in various parts of the country. But, in the coming days, internet penetration and its affordability are going to get a lot better seeing how countries around the world (including Nepal) are investing heavily in the very same. Besides the internet itself, devices like smartphones and computers also need to be easily accessible and affordable to people. Thankfully, this industry has seen a massive surge in computing power and a decline in the gross manufacturing cost in the past couple of years. In terms of smartphones, MediaTek has been consistently pumping out powerful silicons that cost significantly less than its prime competitor – Qualcomm’s chips. Display, battery, and other technologies are also getting a whole lot cheaper thanks to the growing smartphone market, and the consequent rise in R&D investments from vendors. In the computing world, AMD has become a subject of praise for the last couple of years for its powerful lineup of Ryzen, Threadripper, and EPYC lineup of CPU and Radeon lineup of GPU. Compared to what Intel offers at a similar price-point, they simply don’t compete with AMD’s silicons. However, the equation may somewhat change with the upcoming Intel Tiger Lake processors with Xe integrated graphics as preliminary tests show that they outperform AMD’s current generation of Ryzen CPUs. Likewise, NVIDIA recently launched the 3000-series of GPU with the biggest generational leap in the company’s history. Retailing for less than the high-end card of 2000-series, NVIDIA says the entry-level RTX 3070 can outperform the 2080 Ti.