Wired and Wireless Networks Compete—Cooperatively

For almost two centuries, wired networks have given birth to wireless ones, only to spawn new wired ones

3 min read
graphic illustration of wireless communication
Illustration: Matthew Hollister

In the beginning, all real-time communication across distances was wireless—bonfires, smoke signals, semaphores. Centuries of wireless passed before Samuel Morse pioneered telegraphy in 1837 with electrical transmission over wires. By the time Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, wires had already crossed the American continent and the Atlantic Ocean.

Guglielmo Marconi demonstrated modern wireless telecommunications in Italy in 1895. Then in 1899 he sent the first radio signals in America from a ship covering the America’s Cup race to a receiver at a lighthouse overlooking New Jersey’s Sandy Hook Bay. Standing at that very lighthouse, looking down on the bay below, I have wondered: Why demonstrate wireless in this way?

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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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