Leap Second Causes Hours of Problems at Some Websites

Also, a weekend super-derecho takes down part of Amazon Cloud

2 min read
Leap Second Causes Hours of Problems at Some Websites

Every few years, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service calls for an adjustment, usually by one second, to be made between atomic and Earth time to compensate for deviations in the earth’s rotation. The most recent one took place over the weekend at 30 June 2012 at 23:59:60 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time).

Apparently, the change in time was not adjusted for correctly by some web servers leading to temporary problems with Qantas Airlines, Mozilla, Reddit, Gawker, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Yelp and other websites, according to the Guardian newspaper. Qantas's check-in, reservations, and plane loading systems were all forced onto manual operation for about two hours yesterday. The problem was actually with the Amadeus airline reservation system; the airline Virgin Australia was also affected, though not as severely.

Also every few years, a derecho or "a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms," hits parts of the U.S. East coast. On Friday night, a “super” derecho swept through the mid-Atlantic area between 0800 and 1100 pm causing wide spread power outages in its wake (there is a fascinating time-lapsed YouTube video of the derecho here). The storm (which felt like being in a short-lived hurricane) took out power to the Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) in Northern Virginia; back-up power also for some reason did not kick in. As a result, several popular websites including Instagram, Netflix, and Pinterest experienced problems.

The storm also disrupted 911 service in Prince William, Fairfax, Stafford, Manassas, and Manassas Park counties in Northern Virginia; many Verizon and Sprint customer phones were not working in the area as well. So if you have been having trouble reaching someone either by email or by phone in the Washington, D.C. region, don’t be surprised. Things should be back to normal by Saturday.

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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
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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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