Bitcoin [BTC] is a virtual currency whose transactions are primarily executed on the internet. Its dependence on it to exist, however, raises doubts on its store of value and currency argument. While the internet is ubiquitous during today’s time, there are still places on Earth where access is limited.
Nevertheless, Bitcoin is growing more powerful than ever. Samson Mow, the Chief Strategic Officer of Blockstream tweeted about the Blockstream’s satellite service which was launched two years ago. The satellites provide for free synchronization with the Bitcoin ledger.
Furthermore, there also possibilities that are being explored on Earth itself to create a secure offline system for Bitcoin.
The Blockstream Sattelite
The Blockstream Sattelite covers 2/3 of the Earth. The satellite also enables broadcasting data all over the world to the Bitcoin network. Hence, by paying Bitcoin through the lightning network, any message can be broadcasted across the globe.
The #BlockstreamSatellite service has now been operational for 2 years. That's 2 years of free #Bitcoin blockchain data synchronization, improved privacy with offline full-nodes, and making Bitcoin more resilient against network splits. ? @Blockstream #BitcoinInfrastructure pic.twitter.com/wYJw6tLbNX
— Samson Mow (@Excellion) August 15, 2019
There are five commercial satellites used by Blockstream which synchronize with the Blocks on the network in real-time. This provides security against forks or network splits from occurring. Hence, restricting ‘51% attack’ and ‘chain re-org’ attempts.
Other ISP Free Networks on Earth
Currently, the data on the internet follows a centralized path comprising of specific nodes controlled by corporations. According to sources, Amazon’s AWS transmits more than 50% data on the world wide web.
Meltem Demirors, the Chief Strategy Officer at UK-based Coinshares, held a podcast – ‘What Grinds My Gears.’ In her recent episode, she talks about another ISP (Internet Service Provider) independent services – the mesh technology, Bitcoin Relay Network, and FIBRE, transaction services, nano-satellites (Bitsat), and space-based cloud computing (Cubesats).
The mesh technology uses decentralized nodes to transmit data over the internet. Just like Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, there are many scattered nodes that all participate in the transmission of data. As Meltem noted in her blog post, there are a couple of bitcoin and cryptocurrency-based mesh networks like the TxTenna, Bitcoin Venezuela Mesh Network, Althea, Helen, and NKN.
The Relay networks have been exploited continually in the past by spammers. However, Bitcoin relay networks are designed to filter the data, allowing only ledger information to be broadcasted. FIBRE (or Fast Internet Bitcoin Relay Engine) is an extension of the Relay network with lightning response.
The mesh can also be connected to the Blocksteam Satellite for synchronization with the latest blocks without any delay.
The networks, as mentioned above, form a financial ecosystem that incentivizes the use of the network while providing security. These are technological attempts at making Bitcoin ubiquitous and free from the internet, becoming genuinely decentralized.
The Future Beyond Conspiracies
The network providers benefit a lot from the existing system of data transmission. Remember the electrical car conspiracy or unleaded Gas story? Any innovation that disrupts the revenue of large organizations has always faced resistance in the beginning.
Moreover, some of these mesh networks are providing an incredibly cheap source for connection to the world without the use of ISP. While privacy will reduce cyber-attacks and unethical surveillance, the system surely distresses the networking Giants.
There are many ‘censored’ areas on earth, it is imposed for geopolitical security and to implement national laws. However, money or currency should be borderless and censorship-resistant. Hence, in the words of US Congressman Patrick Mchenry,
Due to the nature of the technology of Bitcoin, Governments cannot kill it, nor should they and you can’t kill digital currencies broadly. They will be enduring, they will be strong. That is the new framework of the next generation of the internet.
Furthermore, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies bring security and at the same time, intrinsically incentivizes the players supporting the network. Hence, the barriers to entry for small players are also limited.
With firms working aggressively on Bitcoin, how do you think other cryptocurrencies will find a space in the next era of decentralized internet? Please share your views with us.