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Radio Pirates Grapple with U.S. Regulators

Low-power poachers see themselves as crusaders for diversity and free speech

3 min read

Quick. What do you get when you set up a microphone, a CD player, a portable sound mixer, a 5-W transmitter, and a car battery in your garage, and install a 3-meter antenna just outside? Answers: a radio station—and, if you’re in the United States, trouble with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (Washington, D.C.).

On 2 June, the FCC adopted rules that, critics argue, will unleash a further wave of consolidation in U.S. media markets [see sidebar], hobbling freedom of expression. In that ongoing struggle between diversity and uniformity, in which broadcasting and publishing titans clash, colorful but less-publicized battles also take place between the FCC and radio pirates.

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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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