The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

On the Air

Bringing broadcast back after the loss of 1 World Trade Center

4 min read

26 October 2001–Many New Yorkers were alerted to the 11 September attack on Manhattan not by an announcement, but by silence. The 110-meter mast atop 1 World Trade Center was a broadcast hub for all of the New York City area, supporting FM radio as well as nine TV stations, including local affiliates of CBS, NBC, and ABC. When the first airplane hit, transmission was lost. New Yorkers began surfing their radio and television channels to find out the cause, and broadcast engineers began to see new value in backup transmission sites.

"[One World Trade Center] was the big stick in that part of town," said James Fryer, president of, which keeps tabs on the industry and maps out the locations of the country’s transmission towers. "It will not be quickly or easily replaced."

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

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.

Keep Reading ↓Show less