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Radio Days: World Radiocommunication Conference Concludes Work in Geneva

Spectrum is allocated for wireless local-area networks, high-altitude base stations

7 min read

Geneva, 9 July 2003—Roughly every three years, expert delegations representing virtually every country of the world meet under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to re-divvy and re-allocate the radio spectrum to reflect changing needs. This time around, the World Radiocommunication Conference 2003—an important but rather arcane diplomatic event—took place from 9 June to 4 July in Geneva, with 2506 participants and 151 delegations attending. It was even more widely representative than the previous one, WRC-2000, which took place in Istanbul, and the number of agenda items this year was more than twice as large as three years ago. That made the job of getting work accomplished more challenging than ever [see ”How the WRC Gets Things Done”].

The Istanbul conference, as IEEE Spectrum reported [link ”reported” to /special/wrc2000/index2.html] at the time, was dominated by a single huge issue, allocation of new frequency bands for use in IMT2000 third-generation (3G) cellular telephony systems. This year, in contrast, ”there are many more issues, and many of them are small,” observed Alan Jamieson, a spectrum allocation consultant based in Auckland, New Zealand, who managed the 3G negotiations in Istanbul. Still, some of the items on this year’s agenda also attracted considerable interest because of their commercial potential, as this reporter for Spectrum learned, pacing the corridors, dropping in on sessions, and button-holing delegation leaders as the opportunity arose.

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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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