Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

October 13, 2020

It is now possible to generate clean hydrogen by Microwaving plastic waste

Filed under: Emerging Tech,Interesting Sites,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 2:33 PM

Plastic is a modern hazard and Plastic Pollution has a massive environmental impact. As of 2018, 380 million tonnes of plastic is being produced worldwide each year (source: Wikipedia). Since we all knew that plastic was bad a lot of effort was put in to get people to recycle plastics and single use plastics have been banned in a lot of places (In India they are banned as of 2019). However as per the recent report by NPR, recycling doesn’t keep plastic out of landfills as it is not economically viable at a large scale. It is simply cheaper to just bury the plastic than to clean it and recycle. Apparently this has been known for years now but the Big Oil companies kept it quite to protect their cash cow. So the hunt of what to do with the plastic continues and thanks to recent breakthroughs there just might be light at the end of this tunnel.

Apparently plastic has a high density of Hydrogen in it (something that I wasn’t aware of) and it is possible to extract this hydrogen to use as fuel for a greener future. The existing methods involve heating the plastic to ~750°C to decompose it into syngas (mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide) which are then separated in a second step. Unfortunately this process is energy intensive and difficult to make commercially viable.

Peter Edwards and his team at the University of Oxford decided to tackle this problem and found that if you broke the plastic into small pieces with a kitchen blender and mixed it with a catalyst of iron oxide and aluminium oxide, then microwaved it at 1000 watts then almost 97 percent of the gas in the plastic was released within seconds. To cherry on top is that the material left over after the process completed was almost exclusively carbon nanotubes which can be used in other projects and have vast applications.

The ubiquitous challenge of plastic waste has led to the modern descriptor plastisphere to represent the human-made plastic environment and ecosystem. Here we report a straightforward rapid method for the catalytic deconstruction of various plastic feedstocks into hydrogen and high-value carbons. We use microwaves together with abundant and inexpensive iron-based catalysts as microwave susceptors to initiate the catalytic deconstruction process. The one-step process typically takes 30–90 s to transform a sample of mechanically pulverized commercial plastic into hydrogen and (predominantly) multiwalled carbon nanotubes. A high hydrogen yield of 55.6 mmol g−1plastic is achieved, with over 97% of the theoretical mass of hydrogen being extracted from the deconstructed plastic. The approach is demonstrated on widely used, real-world plastic waste. This proof-of-concept advance highlights the potential of plastic waste itself as a valuable energy feedstock for the production of hydrogen and high-value carbon materials.

Their research was published in Nature Catalysis, DOI: 10.1038/s41929-020-00518-5 yesterday and is still in the early stages. But if this holds up at larger scale testing then it will allow us to significantly reduce the plastic waste that ends up in landfills and at the bottom of the ocean.

Source: New Scientist: Microwaving plastic waste can generate clean hydrogen

– Suramya

September 24, 2020

Can you spot a troll/bot account?

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 10:29 AM

Nowadays we have programmatic bots being used to spread misinformation & distrust on Social Media, in addition to the Troll’s who are just doing it for the lulz. A troll is a person who starts flame wars or intentionally upsets people on the Internet by posting inflammatory messages in an online community with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses for the troll’s amusement or a specific gain.

Can you identify these inauthentic accounts? Most people will say yes to the question but in reality it is hard to identify these accounts especially if they are run my competent people. spotthetroll.org is an online game that tests your ability to identify such accounts along with advice on what to look for when consuming Social Media. Its a great quiz and I found it to be quite fun, especially the section on what to look for when viewing social media to spot trolls/bots was very useful.

Each of the following 8 profiles include a brief selection of posts from a single social media account. You decide if each is an authentic account or a professional troll. After each profile, you’ll review the signs that can help you determine if it’s a troll or not.

I got a 5 out of 8. What’s your score?

– Suramya

September 21, 2020

Diffblue’s Cover is an AI powered software that can write full Unit Tests for you

Filed under: Computer Related,Computer Software,Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 6:19 PM

Writing Unit Test cases for your software is one of the most boring parts of Software Development even though having accurate tests allows us to develop code faster & with more confidence. Having a full test suite allows a developer to ensure that the changes they have made didn’t break other parts of the project that were working fine earlier. This make Unit tests an essential part of CI/CD (Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery) pipelines. It is therefore hard to do frequent releases without rigorous unit testing. For example SQLite database engine has 640 times as much testing code as code in the engine itself:

As of version 3.33.0 (2020-08-14), the SQLite library consists of approximately 143.4 KSLOC of C code. (KSLOC means thousands of “Source Lines Of Code” or, in other words, lines of code excluding blank lines and comments.) By comparison, the project has 640 times as much test code and test scripts – 91911.0 KSLOC.

Unfortunately, since the tests are boring and don’t give immediate tangible results they are the first casualties when a team is under a time crunch for delivery. This is where Diffblue’s Cover comes into play. Diffblue was spun out of the University of Oxford following their research into how to use AI to write tests automatically. Cover uses AI to write a complete Unit Test including logic that reflects the behavior of the program as compared to the other existing tools that generate Unit Tests based on Templates and depend on the user to provide the logic for the test.

Cover has now been released as a free Community Edition for people to see what the tool can do and try it out themselves. You can download the software from here, and the full datasheet on the software is available here.


Using Cover IntelliJ plug-in to write tests

The software is not foolproof as in it doesn’t identify bugs in the source code. It assumes that the code is working correctly when the tests are added in, so if there is incorrect logic in the code it won’t be able to help you. On the other hand if the original logic was correct then it will let you know if the changes made break any of the existing functionality.

Lodge acknowledged the problem, telling us: “The code might have bugs in it to begin with, and we can’t tell if the current logic that you have in the code is correct or not, because we don’t know what the intent is of the programmer, and there’s no good way today of being able to express intent in a way that a machine could understand.

“That is generally not the problem that most of our customers have. Most of our customers have very few unit tests, and what they typically do is have a set of tests that run functional end-to-end tests that run at the end of the process.”

Lodge’s argument is that if you start with a working application, then let Cover write tests, you have a code base that becomes amenable to high velocity delivery. “Our customers don’t have any unit tests at all, or they have maybe 5 to 10 per cent coverage. Their issue is not that they can’t test their software: they can. They can run end-to-end tests that run right before they cut a release. What they don’t have are unit tests that enable them to run a CI/CD pipeline and be able to ship software every day, so typically our customers are people who can ship software twice a year.”

The software is currently only compatible with Java & IntelliJ but work is ongoing to incorporate other coding languages & IDEs.

Thanks to Theregister.com for the link to the initial story.

– Suramya

September 19, 2020

How to Toonify yourself

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 10:57 AM

While surfing the web I came across ‘Toonify Yourself!‘ that allows you to upload a photo and see what you’d look like in an animated movie. It uses deep learning and is based on distillation of a blended StyleGAN models into a pix2pixHD image to image translation network.

It sounded interesting, so I tried it out with one of my pictures and got the following results:


Original image

Toonified Image

I quite like the result and am thinking of using it as my avatar going forward. What do you think?
Thanks to Hacker News for the link

– Suramya

September 16, 2020

Potential signs of life found on Venus: Are we no longer alone in the universe?

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts,News/Articles — Suramya @ 11:15 AM

If you have been watching the Astronomy chatter the past two days, you would have seen the headlines screaming about the possibility of life being found on Venus. Other less reputable sources are claiming that we have found definite proof of alien life. Both are inaccurate as even though we have found something that is easily explained by assuming the possibility of extra-terrestrial life there are other potential explanations that could cause the anomaly. So what is this discovery, you might ask which is causing people worldwide to start freaking out?

During analysis of spectrometer readings of Venus, scientists made a startling discovery high in its atmosphere; they found traces of phosphine (PH3) gas in Venus’s atmosphere, where any phosphorus should be in oxidized forms at a concentration (~20 parts per billion) that is hard to explain. It is unlikely that the gas is produced by abiotic production routes in Venus’s atmosphere, clouds, surface and subsurface, or from lightning, volcanic or meteoritic delivery (See the explanation below), hence the worldwide freak out. Basically the only way we know that this gas could be produced in the quantity measured is if there are anaerobic life (microbial organisms that don’t require or use oxygen) producing the gas on Venus. Obviously this doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways that we haven’t thought about yet that could be generating this gas. But the discovery is causing a big stir and will cause various space programs to start refocusing their efforts on Venus. India’s ISRO already has a mission planned to study the surface and atmosphere of Venus called ‘Shukrayaan-1‘ set to launch late 2020’s after the Mars Orbiter Mission 2 launches and you can be sure that they will be attempting to validate these findings when we get there.

The only way to conclusively prove life exists on Venus would be to go there and collect samples containing extra-terrestrial microbes. Since it’s impossible to prove a negative this will be the only concrete proof that we can trust. Anything else will still leave the door open for other potential explanations for the gas generation.

Here’s a link to the press briefing on the possible Venus biosignature announcement from @RoyalAstroSoc featuring comment from several of the scientists involved.

The recent candidate detection of ppb amounts of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus is a highly unexpected discovery. Millimetre-waveband spectra of Venus from both ALMA and the JCMT telescopes at 266.9445 GHz show a PH3 absorption-line profile against the thermal background from deeper, hotter layers of the atmosphere indicating ~20 ppb abundance. Uncertainties arise primarily from uncertainties in pressure-broadening coefficients and noise in the JCMT signal. Throughout this paper we will describe the predicted abundance as ~20 ppb unless otherwise stated. The thermal emission has a peak emission at 56 km with the FWHM spans approximately 53 to 61 km (Greaves et al. 2020). Phosphine is therefore present above ~55 km: whether it is present below this altitude is not determined by these observations. The upper limit on phosphine occurrence is not defined by the observations, but is set by the half-life of phosphine at <80 km, as discussed below.

Phosphine is a reduced, reactive gaseous phosphorus species, which is not expected to be present in the oxidized, hydrogen-poor Venusian atmosphere, surface, or interior. Phosphine is detected in the atmospheres of three other solar system planets: Jupiter, Saturn, and Earth. Phosphine is present in the giant planet atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, as identified by ground-based telescope observations at submillimeter and infrared wavelengths (Bregman et al. 1975; Larson et al. 1977; Tarrago et al. 1992; Weisstein and Serabyn 1996). In giant planets, PH3 is expected to contain the entirety of the atmospheres’ phosphorus in the deep
atmosphere layers (Visscher et al. 2006), where the pressure, temperature and the concentration of H2 are sufficiently high for PH3 formation to be thermodynamically favored. In the upper atmosphere, phosphine is present at concentrations several orders of magnitude higher than predicted by thermodynamic equilibrium (Fletcher et al. 2009). Phosphine in the upper layers is dredged up by convection after its formation deeper in the atmosphere, at depths greater than 600 km (Noll and Marley 1997).

An analogous process of forming phosphine under high H2 pressure and high temperature followed by dredge-up to the observable atmosphere cannot happen on worlds like Venus or Earth for two reasons. First, hydrogen is a trace species in rocky planet atmospheres, so the formation of phosphine is not favored as it is in the deep atmospheres of the H2-dominated giant planets. On Earth H2 reaches 0.55 ppm levels (Novelli et al. 1999), on Venus it is much lower at ~4 ppb (Gruchola et al. 2019; Krasnopolsky 2010). Second, rocky planet atmospheres do not extend to a depth where, even if their atmosphere were composed primarily of hydrogen, phosphine formation would be favored (the possibility that phosphine can be formed below the surface and then being erupted out of volcanoes is addressed separately in Section 3.2.2 and Section 3.2.3, but is also highly unlikely).

Despite such unfavorable conditions for phosphine production, Earth is known to have PH3 in its atmosphere at ppq to ppt levels (see e.g. (Gassmann et al. 1996; Glindemann et al. 2003; Pasek et al. 2014) and reviewed in (Sousa-Silva et al. 2020)) PH3’s persistence in the Earth atmosphere is a result of the presence of microbial life on the Earth’s surface (as discussed in Section 1.1.2 below), and of human industrial activity. Neither the deep formation of phosphine and subsequent dredging to the surface nor its biological synthesis has hitherto been considered a plausible process to occur on Venus.

More details of the finding are explained in the following two papers published by the scientists:

Whatever the reason for the gas maybe, its a great finding as it has reenergized the search for Extra-Terrestrial life and as we all know: “The Truth is out there…”.

– Suramya

September 15, 2020

Neuroscience is starting to figure out why people feel lonely

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 10:10 PM

Loneliness is a social epidemic which has been amplified by the current Pandemic as humans have an inbuilt desire to be social and interact with each other. The lockdown and isolation due to Covid-19 is not helping things much in this sense. The amount of cases of clinical depression are going up world wide and psychologists world wide are concerned about the impact of this in the near future.

Humans have been talking about social isolation/loneliness for centuries but till date we haven’t really analyzed it from a neurological point of view; to say what does really happen when we are lonely? Does the desire for companionship light up a section of our brain similar to what happens when we are hungry and are craving food? Till recently there wasn’t much research done on the topic, infact till Kay Tye decided to do research on the the neuroscience of loneliness in 2016 there were no published papers that talked about loneliness & contained references to ‘cells’, ‘neurons’, or ‘brain’. So while working at the Stanford University lab of Karl Deisseroth, Tye decided to spend some time trying to isolate the neurons in rodent brains responsible for the need for social interaction. In addition to identifying the region in rodents she has also managed to manipulate the need by directly stimulating the neurons which is a fantastic break through.

Deisseroth had pioneered optogenetics, a technique in which genetically engineered, light-sensitive proteins are implanted into brain cells; researchers can then turn individual neurons on or off simply by shining lights on them though fiber-optic cables. Though the technique is far too invasive to use in people—as well as an injection into the brain to deliver the proteins, it requires threading the fiber-optic cable through the skull and directly into the brain—it allows researchers to tweak neurons in live, freely moving rodents and then observe their behavior.

Tye began using optogenetics in rodents to trace the neural circuits involved in emotion, motivation, and social behaviors. She found that by activating a neuron and then identifying the other parts of the brain that responded to the signal the neuron gave out, she could trace the discrete circuits of cells that work together to perform specific functions. Tye meticulously traced the connections out of the amygdala, an almond-shaped set of neurons thought to be the seat of fear and anxiety both in rodents and in humans.

One of the first things Tye and Matthews noticed was that when they stimulated these neurons, the animals were more likely to seek social interaction with other mice. In a later experiment, they showed that animals, when given the choice, actively avoided areas of their cages that, when entered, triggered the activation of the neurons. This suggested that their quest for social interaction was driven more by a desire to avoid pain than to generate pleasure—an experience that mimicked the “aversive” experience of loneliness.

In a follow-up experiment, the researchers put some of the mice in solitary confinement for 24 hours and then reintroduced them to social groups. As one would expect, the animals sought out and spent an unusual amount of time interacting with other animals, as if they’d been “lonely.” Then Tye and Matthews isolated the same mice again, this time using optogenetics to silence the DRN neurons after the period in solitary. This time, the animals lost the desire for social contact. It was as if the social isolation had not been registered in their brains.

Since the experiment worked on Mice, the next step involved replicating the same thing with humans. Unfortunately they couldn’t use the same method to study the human behavior as no one sane would opt to have fiber-optic cable wired through their head just to participate in a study. So they fell back to a more imprecise method of using fMRI’s to scan the brains of the volunteers and she was able to identify a voxel (discrete population of several thousand neurons) that respond to the desire of wanting something like food/company. In fact they even managed to separate the two area’s responsible for desiring food and desiring company.

This is a fantastic first step because we have managed to identify the first part of the circuit that makes us social animals, obviously a lot more study is needed before this will have practical applications but we have taken the first steps towards the goal. It’s not hard to imagine a future where we have the ability to help suicidal people by simulating the area of their brain that enables them to extract joy from social connections. Or suppress the same in people who have to spend long duration’s of time alone, for example astronauts in interplanetary travel or deep sea researchers etc. The possibilities are endless.

Source: Why do you feel lonely? Neuroscience is starting to find answers.

– Suramya

September 9, 2020

Augmented Reality Geology

Filed under: Computer Software,Emerging Tech,Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 10:17 PM

A lot of times when you look at Augmented Reality (AR), it seems like a solution looking for problem. We still haven’t found the Killer App for AR like the VisiCalc spreadsheet was the killer app for the Apple II and Lotus 1-2-3 & Excel were for the IBM PC. There are various initiatives underway but no one has hit the jackpot yet. There are applications that allow a Doctor to see a reference text or diagram in a heads up display when they’re operating which is something that’s very useful but that’s a niche market. We need something broader in scope and there is a lot of effort focused on the educational field where they’re trying to see if they can use augmented reality in classrooms.

One of the Implementations that sounds very cool is by an app that I found recently where they are using it to project a view of rocks and minerals etc for geology students using AR. Traditionally students are taught by showing them actual physical samples of the minerals and 2D images of larger scale items like meteor craters or strata. The traditional way has its own problems of storage and portability but with AR you can look at a meteor crater in a 3D view, and the teacher can walk you through visually on how it looks and what geological stresses etc formed around it. The same is also possible for minerals and crystals along with other things.

There’s a new app, called GeoXplorer available on both Android and iOS that allows you to achieve this. The app was created by the Fossett Laboratory for Virtual Planetary Exploration to help students understand the complex, three-dimensional nature of geologic structures without having to travel all over the world. The app has a lot of models programmed into the system already with more on the way. Thanks to interest from other fields they are looking at including models of proteins, art, and archeology as well into the App.

“You want to represent that data, not in a projective way like you would do on a screen on a textbook, but actually in a three-dimensional way,” Pratt said. “So you can actually look around it [and] manipulate it exactly how you would do in real life. The thing with augmented reality that we found most attractive [compared to virtual reality] is that it provides a much more intuitive teacher-student setting. You’re not hidden behind avatars. You can use body-language cues [like] eye contact to direct people to where you want to go.”

Working with the Unity game engine, Pratt has since put together a flexible app called GeoXplorer (for iOS and Android) for displaying other models. There is already a large collection of crystalline structure models for different minerals, allowing you to see how all the atoms are arranged. There are also a number of different types of rocks, so you can see what those minerals look like in the macro world. Stepping up again in scale, there are entire rock outcrops, allowing for a genuine geology field-trip experience in your living room. Even bigger, there are terrain maps for landscapes on Earth, as well as on the Moon and Mars.

Its still a work in progress but I think it’s going to be something which is going to be really cool and might be quite a big thing coming soon into classrooms around the world. The one major constraint that I can see is right now, you have to use your phone as the AR gateway which makes it a bit cumbersome to use, something like a Microsoft HoloLens or other augmented reality goggles will make it really easy to use and make it more natural, but obviously the cost factor of these lenses is a big problem. Keeping that in mind it’s easy to understand why they went with the Phone as the AR gateway instead of a Hololens or something similar.

From Martian terrain samples collected by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming to rare hand samples too delicate to handle, the team is constantly expanding the catalog of 3D models available through GeoXplorer and if you have a model you’d like to see added to the app please get in contact with the Fossett Lab at fossett.lab@wustl.edu.

– Suramya

September 4, 2020

A ‘genius’ on Quora wants to know if they can sue someone for removing them from a Whatsapp Group

Filed under: Humor,Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 11:50 PM

Every once in a while you will come across something that highlights the self entitlement of the poster. Today’s winner of entitled litigator (to-be) is a gentleman who posted the following question on Quora: “I want to file a case against a WhatsApp admin for removing me and my spouse from a group without a valid reason. Can it be done as it has affected us mentally?”. I don’t have words on how petty and entitled you have to be in order to think that someone removing you from a whatsapp group is a valid reason to sue the admin of the group.

The person doesn’t say where they are from but based on their eagerness to sue, I have a feeling that they are from the US as American’s are the most eager litigator’s that I know of. On one side its funny but on the other hand its scary how much people think is due to them and how far they are willing to go to get what they feel is due to them. Some of the cases filed would boggle your mind. We have had a kidnapper sue his victims for breach of contract when they escaped and another one sued for being misled that a sugary snack has a lot of sugar. In all a lot of bizarre lawsuits that have been filed till date, mostly in the US but there are a few gems from Europe as well. I was curious and searched for the most ridiculous law suites ever filed and boy did the Internet deliver. Below are some of my favorites from the search results:

Woman Says Jelly Belly Lied To Her

A California woman filed a mind-blowing lawsuit in 2017 when she felt misled by the fact that Jelly Belly candies contained sugar, Jessica Gomez filed a complaint against the jelly bean maker over its use of the term “evaporated cane juice” appearing on the packaging for Jelly Belly Sport Beans.

She said she thought it meant the candies were sugar-free and that they were a healthier snack option. The candy company called the suit “nonsense” and urged the courts to drop it because the product’s nutrition label clearly shows its sugar content.

The case was dismissed after the cart ruled that the plaintiffs failed to show facts specific to their purchase and reliance on advertising.

The next one just made me roll my eyes, the lady this guy sued had a lucky escape. Imagine living with someone so entitled!

The ‘First Date From Hell’

A Texas man made international news and became a poster boy for pettiness when he sued a woman after what he called the “first date from hell.”

Brandon Vezmar, 37, went on a date with a woman he met on Bumble in 2017 and was angered when she apparently spent the whole night on her phone. Vezmar sued the woman, hoping to get back the $17.31 he spent taking her to the movies.

The woman eventually just gave him the money back, so he’d drop the whole thing and leave her alone.

Here’s another Gem, Apparently this genius didn’t know that things in the sun get hot (especially if they are painted black). I learnt that lesson in kindergarten… But why use your brain when you can sue.

Fan’s Burned Butt Means Lawsuit For Dallas Cowboys

In 2012, a Dallas Cowboys fan sued her favorite football team after she claimed she suffered severe burns after sitting on a hot bench at a game. Jennelle Carrillo, herself a Texan, got lawyers involved after attending a team scrimmage in August 2010 and unwittingly sitting on a very hot seat.

The temperatures that day were more than 100 degrees and the bench itself was black, but Carrillo claimed she had no way of knowing that the seat would be so hot because the team didn’t have signs posted warning fans.

The lawsuit disappeared after initial media mentions.

The next one just makes me think, what the hell was this guy thinking?

Dangerous breasts

A man visits a nude bar. We’re not sure how the joke normally goes, but in this instance it ends up in court. In 1996 a a man named Paul Shimkonis sued his local topless bar claiming a dancer’s breasts had given him whiplash. Shimkonis described the breasts as ‘cement blocks’ which had caused him physical and mental anguish. His request fro $15,000 in damages was denied by the judge. We find ourselves wondering what sort of dance move can cause that level of momentum.

If you have some free time and need to laugh you can check out the list of ridiculous lawsuits here and here.

The really scary part is that sometimes these idiots win and then we get warning labels telling us that the Hot Coffee we ordered is actually Hot.

– Suramya

August 31, 2020

World Map listing Literal Translations of Every Country’s Name

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 10:57 AM

‘What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.’ a famous quote by William Shakespeare from Romeo & Juliet. When we talk about Country names it turns out that the names incorporate lots of insights into the history and culture of a place. To understand this in more detail Credit Card Compare which is an Australia-based website recently dug into the etymology of place names to create a world map that highlights the literal translation of the world’s countries names.

“We live in a time of air travel and global exploration,” the company writes in the blog. “We’re free to roam the planet and discover new countries and cultures. But how much do you know about the people who lived and explored these destinations in times past? Learning the etymology—the origin of words—of countries around the world offers us fascinating insight into the origins of some of our favorite travel destinations and the people who first lived there.”


Name translations for Asia

Some of the names are obvious and I already knew about them, others were a surprise. For example I didn’t know that Bhutan’s literally translates as “The Land of the Thunder Dragon” or that Brazil literally means “Red like an Amber”. The obvious ones are India which means “Land of the Indus” and Russia which means “Land of the Rus”

Check out the full selection at: World map: the literal translation of country names and details on origin of these names here.

– Suramya

August 24, 2020

India has the cheapest Mobile Internet in the world

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 2:58 PM

Internet services were launched in India on 15th August, 1995 by Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited and in November, 1998, the Government opened up the sector for providing Internet services by private operators. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Internet’s launch in India and its astounding how much the landscape has changed in the past 25 years. My first net connection in 1998 was a blazing 33.3kbps dial-up connection that cost Rs 15,000 for 250 hours, this allowed you to use graphical tools to browse the internet like Netscape (which was the precursor for Firefox). For students there was a discount pricing for Rs 5,000 for 250 hours but they only got access to text/shell based browsing.

Now, 25 years later the landscape is completely different. Internet connections costs in India are the cheapest in the world as per a recent study done for The Worldwide broadband speed league by Cable.co.uk in association with M-Lab.

Five cheapest packages in the world

The five cheapest countries in terms of the average cost of 1GB of mobile data are India ($0.09), Israel ($0.11), Kyrgyzstan ($0.21), Italy ($0.43), and Ukraine ($0.46).

Conversely to the most expensive, none of these countries are islands. Further, they all either contain excellent fibre broadband infrastructure (Italy, India, Ukraine, Israel), or in the case of Kyrgyzstan rely heavily on mobile data as the primary means to keep its populace connected to the rest of the world.

This is based on sampling done in Feb 2020

Rank Name Plans measured Average price of 1GB (local currency) Currency Conversion rate (USD) (Frozen 27/04/2020) Average price of 1GB (USD) Cheapest 1GB (Local currency) Cheapest 1GB for 30 days (USD) Most expensive 1GB (Local currency) Most expensive 1GB (USD) Sample date
1 India 60 6.66 INR 0.01 0.09 1.63 0.02 209.09 $2.75 14/02/2020

If you compare the costs to prices in the US, you will notice that Internet (data) is significantly more expensive in the US as opposed to India.

Rank Name Plans measured Average price of 1GB (local currency) Currency Conversion rate (USD) (Frozen 27/04/2020) Average price of 1GB (USD) Cheapest 1GB (Local currency) Cheapest 1GB for 30 days (USD) Most expensive 1GB (Local currency) Most expensive 1GB (USD) Sample date
188 United States 29 8.00 USD 1.00 8.00 2.20 2.20 2.20 $60.00 24/02/2020

The cheap internet data connections in India is completely due to Reliance Jio. Till Jio launched their services in September 2016 the cost for 1GB of data was Rs 249 for 1GB (Airtel/Idea) & Rs. 251 for 1GB (Vodaphone). After Jio launched all other ISP’s starting loosing customers to Jio at an astronomical rate and had to cut prices in order to stay in business. Now, 4 years later we have the cheapest data in the world at ~Rs 6 per GB. 🙂 This proves that healthy competition is the best way to get good service at a competitive pricing. If there was a monopoly then they can choose the pricing as per their desire and since folks don’t have an alternate option they have to use their services.

Check out the full report at: Worldwide mobile data pricing: The cost of 1GB of mobile data in 228 countries.

– Suramya

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