The January 2023 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Wi-Fi Cloud Hovers Over Salt Lake City

Researchers map the invisible geography of wireless networks

3 min read

28 February 2008--U.S. cities such as Tempe, Ariz., and Philadelphia have struggled to set up municipal Wi-Fi systems, but some researchers believe a city could make do by piggybacking on the many residential and business hotspots already dotting most cities. Among the many difficulties in making such a scheme work, one of the main ones is determining just how large and dense the existing Wi-Fi clouds are.

Paul Torrens, an Arizona State University geographer recently completed the first maps of Wi-Fi coverage on a citywide scale. ”I was using Wi-Fi myself and noticing the phenomenon unfolding before my eyes,” he says. ”I thought there must be a geography to it.”

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