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CES 2018: A Lesson in Network Redundancy

At CES, telecom expert Joe Lillie talks about how to connect millions of new gadgets

1 min read
Illustration of towers and connectivity signals.
Illustration: iStockphoto

This week at CES in Las Vegas, IEEE Spectrum senior editor Stephen Cass is interviewing experts about what they think the future holds for technology, and which new gadgets have caught their eye on the show floor.

On Wednesday, Cass spoke with Joe Lillie [PDF], a consultant with BIZPHYX who has 41 years of experience in the telecommunications industry. They discuss the infrastructure that the world would need to support all the new gadgets on display at CES (should consumers actually want to buy them) and how solar microgrids can improve public health. “These gadgets mean nothing if you don't have electricity,” Lillie points out.

His statement came shortly after two large exhibition halls at CES briefly lost power due to heavy rains that caused a flashover in a transformer, plunging exhibitors and attendees into semidarkness. Once power and connectivity had been restored, Lillie also spoke about the importance of network redundancy, and taking care to upgrade systems that are currently in place. 

“Technology is still dependent upon the day-to-day activity of someone maintaining the equipment,” he says. 

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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