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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The Cellular Industry’s Clash Over the Movement to Remake Networks

The wireless industry is divided on Open RAN’s goal to make network components interoperable

13 min read
Photo: George Frey/AFP/Getty Images

We've all been told that 5G wireless is going to deliver amazing capabilities and services. But it won't come cheap. When all is said and done, 5G will cost almost US $1 trillion to deploy over the next half decade. That enormous expense will be borne mostly by network operators, companies like AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, and dozens more around the world that provide cellular service to their customers. Facing such an immense cost, these operators asked a very reasonable question: How can we make this cheaper and more flexible?

Their answer: Make it possible to mix and match network components from different companies, with the goal of fostering more competition and driving down prices. At the same time, they sparked a schism within the industry over how wireless networks should be built. Their opponents—and sometimes begrudging partners—are the handful of telecom-equipment vendors capable of providing the hardware the network operators have been buying and deploying for years.

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