Blockstream Satellite Promises Bitcoin Use Without Internet
Bitcoin’s price will be reaching new heights after the launch of the Blockstream satellite. The satellite would receive blocks from all over the world via “teleport stations” on the ground. These would then be broadcasted to the entire world.
But how does that allow users to access bitcoin without the internet?
It’s quite simple. First, you buy the equipment listed in the hardware checklist which is estimated to cost you around $100. The list includes:
- 145cm Ku Band Satellite Dish (antenna)
- PLL LNB (linear polarization) w/ < = 200kHz LO stability
- LNB Power Supply
- LNB Mounting Bracket
- Software Defined Radio interface
- Cables, Connectors, and Mounting Hardware
Once the equipment is installed, you become connected to the satellite. You can then download nodes and bring them up to date while being offline.
Why introduce Blockstream Satellite?
It’s a valuable decision because 49% of the world does not have access to the internet. It is also profitable in situations such as power outages. It is expected that the entire world will be covered by Blockstream satellite(s) before 2017’s over. Performing transactions in bitcoin would still require internet. However, the project is only in its beta phase so it is possible that they might start offering this service in the future. According to the official announcement:
“Blockstream Satellite is the world’s first service that broadcasts real-time Bitcoin transactions and blocks from a group of satellites in space. With the service, everyone will have free access to the Bitcoin network, in any corner of the world, including the estimated four billion people not currently connected to the Internet, due to lack of availability or affordability.”
There were mixed reactions from the online community. Jameson Lopp, BitGo engineer, tweeted that this launch was a big step in the direction of “financial sovereignty & privacy”. Jeff Garzik, co-founder of Bloq, asked in response:
A single company broadcasting that company’s version of the blockchain… is good for privacy?
— Jeff Garzik (@jgarzik) August 15, 2017
Since Blockstream is using a leased satellite, Garzik pointed out that the satellite is not decentralized. This means that if a person calls and complains about bitcoin to the satellite provider, they could shut down the entire system.
Peter Todd, Bitcoin developer, said it was not a publicity stunt but a decision that would help Bitcoin avoid government’s censorship on its nodes. Product architect of Chain, Oleg Andreev, wrote that making it available to countries where in ternet does not exist is only a ruse. In reality, launching the satellite is a means of creating and funding a new set-up for “Bitcoin hodlers”.
Blockchain.info’s security engineer, Kristov Atlas criticized the idea and tweeted: “If the govt wants to mess with Bitcoin they can easily command satalite users to cease transmission of Bitcoin-related data.”
While both positive and negative reactions were expected from the launch, Blockstream simply states that bitcoin will now become “more robust”.