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AT&T made a rather nerdy announcement Tuesday about "white box" networking gear, but it was actually a rather big deal. The company has started putting real network traffic onto hardware cobbled together from a variety of chip, hardware and software partners. The test network gear comes in a couple flavors and began routing traffic last week between San Francisco and D.C.Who is involved: AT&T is working with a tiny software start-up SnapRoute, which was started by a bunch of ex-Apple employees. Chip partners include Barefoot Networks, Broadcom, and Intel, while units of Delta Electronics and Edgecore Networks assembled the gear to AT&T's specifications.Who is on the outside looking in: Traditional network gear makers Cisco and Juniper Networks aren't part of this and risk losing out on some serious business down the road unless they get a lot cheaper and more open, as this opens the door for AT&T to make its own networking gear.Why it matters: Not only can white box gear be a lot cheaper to install, support and service, but AT&T also has far greater visibility into what's going on inside. With the test gear, AT&T executives say they can literally see what is happening with each packet of data, allowing for greater security as well as potentially opening the door to new lines of business. AT&T CTO Andre Fuetsch compared the increased visibility with the difference between an X-Ray and an MRI.

Go deeper

Biden confronts mounting humanitarian crisis at the border

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Pool/Getty Images     

Just over a month into his presidency, President Biden is staring down a mounting crisis at the border that could be just as bad as the ones faced by Barack Obama and Donald Trump, if not worse.

Why it matters: Immigration is an issue that can consume a presidency. It's intensely and poisonously partisan. It's complicated. And the lives and welfare of vulnerable children hang in the balance.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
57 mins ago - Economy & Business

The rise of vaccine passports

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Vaccine passports were touted early in the pandemic as an important piece of the plan to get people back to normal life. Now they’re becoming a reality.

Driving the news: CLEAR, the secure digital identity app that you see in airports around the world, and CommonPass, a health app that lets users securely access vaccination records and COVID test results, have joined forces.

"Vaccine tourism" stretches states' supplies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans who are highly motivated to get vaccinated are traveling across state lines after hearing about larger vaccine supplies or loopholes in sign-up systems.

Why it matters: "Vaccine tourism" raises ethical and legal questions, and could worsen the racial socioeconomic and racial inequalities of the pandemic.