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Commentary: Sprint's Xohm Network Is Dead; Long Live Xohm

Shedding a troubled past, a wireless broadband service gets a cash infusion and new management

4 min read

14 May 2008—This month’s most surprising merger story isn’t the one that failed (Microsoft-Yahoo); it’s the one that succeeded, against all odds. Sprint-Nextel, the No. 3 U.S. cellular company, merged itsnascent fourth-generation network, called Xohm, with that of Clearwire, a small wireless carrier in the Pacific Northwest.

The new entity, which will be majority owned by Sprint but called Clearwire, joins two entities that rely on the same technology but haven’t agreed on much else; a planned joint operating agreement fell apart last autumn. It’s as if a couple who couldn’t agree where to spend a vacation decided to get married instead. At least the happy couple will have a nice honeymoon, with a US $3.2 billion dowry given jointly by Intel, Google, three cable companies, and an investment firm (see sidebar ”Clearwire: A Potent Cocktail”).

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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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