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TV White-Space Networks Get Smart

Bell Labs, Rice University test white-space network hardware

4 min read

27 July 2011—Many technorati still remember what happened to Steve Jobs a year ago. During a demo of the then new iPhone 4, the usually smooth showman was thwarted on stage by his company’s Wi-Fi network, which was clogged by the data demands of the reporters and bloggers in the room.

The failed demo was one of the more visible examples of the need for more wireless bandwidth—a sort of "super Wi-Fi," or as Google founder Larry Page likes to call it, "Wi-Fi on steroids." Such an offering could arrive as a result of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) release of rules for commercial use of unlicensed television spectrum last year. Several telecom regulatory agencies in other countries plan to follow suit: Brazilian telecommunications regulator Anatel; the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI); the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television in China; and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore have all shown interest in freeing up their TV spectrum for use in wireless broadband services.

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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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