Bitcoin's wireless transmission footprint has been substantially expanded thanks to the most recently hired Blockstream satellite.
The blockchain development company has confirmed that it has rented a fifth satellite on December 17, which is used to transmit the Bitcoin blockchain in the Asia-Pacific region, in addition to the existing coverage on Africa, Europe, South and North America.
The satellite service offers Bitcoin transactions without internet and the sharing of information to crypted users in all five continents.
Together with the announcement, Blockstream would launch a new application programming interface (API) that allows the satellite network to transmit encrypted messages. Users are able to pay for this service using micropayments on the Lightning network.
The move is interesting, as it removes the dependence on a physical Internet connection through traditional ADSL connections and fiber-optic networks.
More than Bitcoin
Blockstream CSO Samson Mow spoke with Cointelegraph after the announcement this week to unravel the ramifications of their extensive satellite coverage and the possibilities it creates for potential blockchain-based projects.
In developed countries, Internet connectivity has in some ways become a basic service offered to many, but the reality is that wired connections are a luxury service for many countries around the world.
Without an Internet connection, physical or wireless, it is impossible to synchronize a computer with the Bitcoin blockchain and be part of the mining network. To this end, Mow told Cointelegraph that a satellite connection provides a much needed solution for remote and developing areas of the world:
"Everything a user requires to receive Blockstream Satellite transmissions is a low-cost standard satellite dish, so if they run a full node and receive mainly payments, they do not need an Internet connection at all. transaction, they could send it via an SMS bridge or a mesh network.The Blockstream Satellite allows users to be creative and create new solutions around the service. "
One of the most important aspects of this satellite service is the backup protection that could potentially provide the Bitcoin network in the event of a large network blackout. It is a scenario that could affect the main metropolitan areas of the world and potentially threaten the validity of the Bitcoin network.
As Mow explains, their satellite network is a potential protection against a situation like this. A satellite that transmits the Bitcoin blockchain could act as a route node for an area that has lost conventional Internet connectivity for any reason:
"For anyone who relies on Bitcoin to buy or sell goods and services, it would be a big problem if they were completely cut off from the network due to a cut undersea internet cable, which would result in a network partition where nodes would go out of sync, so Users could potentially accept a transaction that is subsequently invalidated.With Blockstream Satellite, as long as someone in a country is receiving, it will keep itself and others in that region in sync with the rest of the Bitcoin network. "
More power for people
One of Bitcoin's biggest draw cards is its decentralized and anonymous nature. The pre-eminent cryptocurrency allows people to carry out anonymous transactions and without the need for a central authority.
That said, Bitcoin's blockchain still depends on a fully functioning network to transmit transaction blocks. For most people, this means that extra costs are incurred through internet service providers.
Mow says that a satellite connection is a cheaper way for Bitcoin node operators to stay in sync with the blockchain:
"Not only does Blockstream Satellite extend basic Bitcoin access to regions without Internet connectivity, it promotes in particular the adoption of complete Bitcoin nodes, drastically reducing the cost of managing one." Receiving blockchain data from the Blockstream Satellite does not it has costs, unlike typical broadband connections that have limited bandwidth, which is great news for the number of nodes and the diversity of the network. "
Satellite coverage also opens up the possibilities for applications outside the realm of conventional Bitcoin transactions.
While Blockstream is keeping future plans for its satellite broadcast service near its chest, details of its Application Programming Interface (API) have been released.
As explained by Mow to Cointelegraph, the API will allow users to send encrypted messages through the service, with the Lightning network used to process the microtransactions. This opens up a number of possibilities for users all over the world:
"We have some interesting things going on, the last example is the Blockstream Satellite API, which we combined our satellite technology with Lightning payments to create the first open satellite transmission service. people can send totally private messages containing bitcoin market data, multisig transaction data or even other blockchain data, which should open many new application models. "
Overall, the service adds a further element of robustness to Bitcoin's blockchain and users have a cheaper alternative to connect and negotiate with cryptocurrency.
In areas where there are government restrictions, regulations and censorship of certain information or internet connectivity, a wireless service such as Blockstream could further improve the disruptive effect of Bitcoin, cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.