“… But what if the government was to turn the internet off..?” I am sure you have all heard this argument before when you have been explaining to someone how robust the Bitcoin security model is and how even Interpol would be biting off far more than they could chew by attempting to bring the network down.
Apart from the logistical difficulty of enforcing such a draconian policy as banning the internet across the entire planet, one Bitcoin startup is working hard to make sure that even in the event of a complete, planet-wide disconnection from the net, those who need to can still communicate with the Bitcoin network.
Bitcoin in Space: New Blockstream Satellite Expands Reach to Asia-Pacific
As of yesterday, Bitcoin users in the Asia-Pacific region will be able to communicate with the Bitcoin blockchain without relying on an internet connection as they typically had to. According to a post on Blockstream’s website, the cryptocurrency startup has just completed “Phase 2” of its Blockstream Satellite network, which has connected the region to those already benefiting from satellite coverage (North and South America, Europe, and Africa).
The Asia-Pacific satellite is the fifth satellite launched by the startup run by one of the biggest names in the cypherpunk movement – Adam Back. Its launch means that anyone with a satellite receiver and a cheap USB receiver will be able to download the entire Bitcoin blockchain without cost or access to the internet.
The idea is to lower the network’s dependence on the internet. This, in turn, will make it much less likely that outside forces will be able to corrupt Bitcoin. By allowing the world to use the network without relying on internet access, Blockstream are helping to align Bitcoin closer to the original principles that drew many to the space in the first place. These include the network being: censorship resistant, permissionless, and a viable check to governments’ abuses of power.
As Phase 2 completes worldwide coverage, #BlockstreamSatellite takes #Bitcoin to new heights. Free and private access to Bitcoin #blockchain data is now available to everyone on ?. Where will Bitcoin go next? Video made by @Pixelmatic! ⛓️?️⚡️???? pic.twitter.com/VyEjLRR48X
— Blockstream (@Blockstream) December 18, 2018
Blockstream Also Reveals Blockstream Satellite API
In addition to the extra satellite, Blockstream also announced the launch of a new API coming in January. The new broadcast function will allow Bitcoin users to send data using the Lightning Network.
Data transmitted using the API can be a both encrypted and unencrypted. The latter will use Lightning Network’s onion-routed payment channels. This means that users can send entirely private messages to one another or public messages that anyone can read.
Chris Cook, the head of Blockstream Satellite, stated:
“While satellite communications are traditionally cost-prohibitive, Blockstream Satellite will finally allow developers to adopt satellite communications in their applications. The new API will make it possible to send ‘Hello World’ to the world, but we think developers will come up with something a little more adventurous than that. Natural disaster notifications, secure personal messaging, and sending bitcoin market data to remote locations are just some of the exciting examples of the power of this service.”
Slew of Bitcoin Development Not Reflected in the Price
Advancements like the new Blockstream Satellite coverage increase the value of the BTC network immensely and 2018 has been full of them. The SegWit protocol upgrade soft forked into the network last summer has seen soaring adoption rates, helping to reduce Bitcoin transaction fees and Lightning Network has advanced from an exciting idea to a fully operational, layer two scaling solution that is growing every day.
Elsewhere, infrastructure developments are also helping to add value to the network. These include the launch of several custodial solutions from big names and trusted institutions launching (or planning to launch) their own trading desks.
So far, these improvements to both the protocol itself and the infrastructure have not been reflected in the Bitcoin price. This can be largely attributed to just how spectacular the bubble bursting at the start of this year was.
Generally speaking, the faster and higher something soars, the lower it will plummet for a longer time. We are currently witnessing a market whose wounds are still too deep and fresh to be buying en masse again. However, when enough time has passed and confidence is restored, such improvements will likely help Bitcoin reach prices inconceivable to all but John McAfee and the most confident of the Bitcoin bulls.