Bitcoin has taken the world by storm and introduced new possibilities into the financial market. While it has been around for some years, this digital currency platform and others like it are still new. They are still a developing technology that most people don’t know much about. That’s why it’s not surprising that many ask questions like, “What if you can’t connect to the internet? Where will your Bitcoins be then?” This shows a limited understanding of what Bitcoin and similar currencies actually are.
Digital currencies are actually contracts in the form of communication protocols. You just need to follow a set of rules laid down by Bitcoin to carry out transactions, which means you could write it on paper and the transaction would be still valid because it is a contract between you and other parties involved. All you need to do is get the transaction to a miner and ask them to add it to the blockchain, which holds permanent records. Fortunately, the industry is also coming up with ways to handle transactions without internet connections.
1. Broadcasting From Space
A blockchain company Blockstream revealed a new service that transmits Bitcoin blockchain to almost every location on Earth through satellite communication in real time. It covers two-thirds of the Earth’s landmass, which means most users will have clear and easy access to this blockchain communications technology. The service allows more people to participate in Bitcoin and this includes interested individuals in remote areas. The company is leasing bandwidth on existing commercial satellites that cover North America, South America, Africa, and Europe.
Satellites will communicate with ground stations called teleports so public blockchain can be uploaded to the satellite network. This improves accessibility significantly, so investors in this industry don’t have to be as reliant on current Internet communications systems.
All that users need is a small dish to connect with the satellite network and a USB SDR interface, which costs less than $100 but provides consistent connectivity. The software interface is open source and free so you don’t have to deal with additional expenses.
Satellite communication isn’t the only option available. The cryptocurrency industry has several innovators that develop unique solutions to problems in this emerging field. Nick Szabo has come up with a way to carry out Bitcoin transactions over radio. He worked with former Stanford engineer Elaine Ou to make sure the radio transactions were seamless and secure.
Testing suggests it is possible to run a Bitcoin SPV client through low-signal HF radio channels. This transaction is similar to the satellite communication mentioned above and most experts in this industry consider it a more efficient alternative to the Internet.
One of the biggest benefits of this technology is the ability to carry out transactions without worrying about internet censorship or restrictions. The Internet is controlled and monitored by various government and private agencies and while this doesn’t affect the information stored in blockchain, it can hinder transactions. Radio communication provides a more reliable environment where third-party individuals can’t suddenly affect the value or legitimacy of digital currencies.
Industry influencers have long-since realized that the Internet can’t be reliable platform for Bitcoin, especially if they want the cryptocurrency industry to grow. That’s why new technologies for communications and transactions are being developed regularly. Samourai Wallet has collaborated with goTenna to create txTenna, an Android app that can help bypass the need for the Internet in digital currency transactions.
This app combines mesh networking and digital currency transaction through goTenna’s portable antennas. The devices broadcast transactions without the aid of the Internet and the network is easily accessible. Most investors and experts like the idea of a mesh network because it goes hand-in-hand with the decentralized nature of blockchain. Parties involved in the transaction can connect directly without going through cell towers or internet service providers, which is always an advantage.
Many consider centralized communication like Internet or phone lines to be too vulnerable for a digital currency network. A strong storm or similar natural disaster can easily destabilize it, which can hamper transactions. While this isn’t a big issue now, it can become a problem as digital money becomes more prominent.
Because Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are so disruptive, it is possible that some countries might impose limits on Bitcoin use by restricting the Internet as a whole. Radio ensures people aren’t suddenly cut off from their money. While most countries realize the potential of Bitcoin and are preparing to accept it, some still struggle with the concept.
They go back and forth on whether they want to accept cryptocurrency or adopt a protectionist attitude towards digital currency. Countries like Japan have already given it a legal tender status and it’s possible several others will follow. Keep communications channels open and accessible to as many people as possible will help digital money thrive and grow.
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