Napolitano Cancels the US $1 Billion SBInet Virtual Fence Project

SBInet II said to cost US $750 million, assembled from proven off-the-shelf technology

3 min read

Several years ago, I wrote in my blog for IEEE Spectrum that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Secure Border Initiative's SBInet, the "virtual fence" project that was supposed to build a sensor-, radar-, and camera-arrayed fence along the U.S.–Mexico border, was finished, kaput. It wasn't a matter of whether the project was going to be terminated, only when and at what final cost.

Well, finally, this January DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the termination of the project, long dead but still on life support. The obituary came after yet another US $230 million or so had been spent. To make matters worse, it was spent over the same time period that an internal DHS and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) review team was conducting a reassessment of the program, one that "incorporated an independent, quantitative, science-based 'Analysis of Alternatives' to determine if SBInet is the most efficient, effective and economical way to meet our nation's border security needs."

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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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