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Offline fussyhands

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mesh networking, last mile problem, and BTSX
« on: September 30, 2014, 07:35:37 PM »

Bear with me as I explain an idea I had a few years ago regarding cryptocurrency and mesh networks, and let me know what you think:

As I'm sure most are familiar with here, the "last mile" problem refers to the incredible expense of wiring up a city for the last mile of connectivity.  There are hundreds of times more wire to run (and the expense of running that wire is much greater per mile) to connect each house within a city, than to run connections between cities.  That is a primary reason that there is virtually no competition for high speed internet access.  For instance, at my house, there is exactly one high speed internet company: Comcast.  However, if there were an inexpensive way to get internet to all the houses in the last mile, then the low cost of inter-city connectivity would drive down the cost of high speed internet (and drive up the speed).

Cellular service offers limited competition to broadband providers.  However, cellular technology makes very poor use of spectrum and thus cannot provide nearly the bandwidth necessary to become a real competitor.  To communicate with a single phone, each cell tower broadcasts a powerful signal over a broad swath of space, thus making that spectrum unavailable to communicate with other phones throughout that entire space.  This inefficient use of spectrum places a severe constraint on the amount of data that be transmitted.

Mesh networks can use spectrum much more efficiently because they can broadcast very weak signals over very short distances.  The weaker the signal the smaller the area monopolized by the transmission.  If the signal is only strong enough to reach the neighboring house, virtually no area is monopolized.  This leaves the spectrum available to all the other neighborhoods in the city to use simultaneously.  With efficient use of spectrum, wireless transmission can provide faster connectivity and higher throughput than the best broadband providers currently offer.  A simple illustration:



In the first image, user 1 monopolizes the spectrum for the entire neighborhood.  In the second image user 1 monopolizes the spectrum for only a small area allowing user 2 to simultaneously transmit.

If mesh networking solves the last mile problem, why do broadband providers still have monopoly power in the broadband markets?  Why are prices so high and speeds so slow?  Mesh networks have a critical problem that has yet to be resolved.  Mesh networks depend on wide spread participation to be effective but there is very little incentive to invest in hardware, electricity, setup costs, etc., in order to relay other people's data.  To incentivize people to participate in the network, there needs to be some kind of payment for relaying data.  Existing payment networks do not handle micropayments well.  Bitcoin is better than traditional payment networks but its transaction costs are too high and confirmation times too slow.

To make a mesh network successful, there must be a payment network that can send pennies of value with confirmation times of just a few seconds.  Very small transactions that are quickly confirmed will allow *streams* of payments to be sent in exchange for *streams* of data, reduce the opportunities to free loading and stealing, and eliminate the need for trust between anonymous nodes.  Then each hop in the mesh network can charge according to how much data it is passing and what the cost of the alternative routes are.  This will drive competition to install mesh nodes in busy areas of the network where they are needed most.  If you happen to live in a busy area, you can buy a mesh wifi router, plug it into your wall and collect a stream of income everyday.

BTSX transaction times are too slow and transaction fees are too expensive.  BUT, it may not be that way for long.  BTSX is currently the closest of any payment network to meeting the requirements of such a mesh network.  The actual cost of propagating, confirming and storing transactions is much lower than the current BTSX transaction fee, so the price has room to drop.  And with certain protocol advances (based on knowledge of propagation times of competing double spend transaction, and delegate voting) it may be possible to "confirm" transactions before they are included in a block, thus achieving transaction times of just a few seconds.  With transaction fees less than a penny and confirmation times of only a few seconds, streaming payments are a reality and a mesh network could thrive.

It would revolutionize the communications industry.  It would compete with not just broadband providers but also cellular providers.  It would eliminate the last mile problem and throw open the doors to competition.  It would be a trillion dollar disruption.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2014, 08:00:04 PM by fussyhands »

Offline Ander

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Re: mesh networking, last mile problem, and BTSX
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2014, 07:40:25 PM »
Wow.  This sounds like a DAC that needs to be created!
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Offline robrigo

Re: mesh networking, last mile problem, and BTSX
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2014, 07:43:00 PM »
I believe the DNS test net has successfully shown 2 second avg. confirmation times of transactions. So what you are describing may be possible using the BitShares toolkit.

Offline bytemaster

Re: mesh networking, last mile problem, and BTSX
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2014, 07:47:16 PM »
There is no need to have transactions confirmed that quickly... peers would extend credit to each other and settle daily.  A node that doesn't settle will be cut off.  In a mesh network each node will have at most 18 peers  (neighbors left, right, front back, top, bottom, and diagonals) "in range"... if one of them doesn't pay then they are cut off.

Most payments could be made with "bandwidth bartering" and only the long-term trade surplus would need to be settled in crypto.

For the latest updates checkout my blog: http://bytemaster.bitshares.org
Anything said on these forums does not constitute an intent to create a legal obligation or contract between myself and anyone else.   These are merely my opinions and I reserve the right to change them at any time.

Offline roadscape

Re: mesh networking, last mile problem, and BTSX
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2014, 07:50:27 PM »
Great idea! Mind blown.
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Offline fussyhands

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Re: mesh networking, last mile problem, and BTSX
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2014, 07:55:57 PM »
There is no need to have transactions confirmed that quickly... peers would extend credit to each other and settle daily.  A node that doesn't settle will be cut off.  In a mesh network each node will have at most 18 peers  (neighbors left, right, front back, top, bottom, and diagonals) "in range"... if one of them doesn't pay then they are cut off.

Most payments could be made with "bandwidth bartering" and only the long-term trade surplus would need to be settled in crypto.

(1) You're thinking too small.  Done right, this can replace cell phone service too.  It's got to be trustless for that.  Nodes can't be settling up with your phone at the end of the day every time you visit a new neighborhood because that would allow cellphones to cheat and steal as much bandwidth as they want.

(2) Even if you confine the network to broadband, it needs to be easy to setup to get mass adoption.  That means you plug it in and it starts generating income or providing you with connectivity.  You don't want to have to worry about cutting people off or knowing the actual people you are connecting to.  Without a way to manage identity, an automated cutoff for cheaters would just mean that cheaters have to change their identification after each time they rip you off.  If nodes defend themselves from cheaters who are changing their identification constantly by refusing to accept new anonymous connections then you have just killed the ease of setting up the network, thus you've killed mass adoption, and thus you've killed coverage and throughput which depend on mass adoption.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2014, 08:09:39 PM by fussyhands »

Offline bytemaster

Re: mesh networking, last mile problem, and BTSX
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2014, 08:35:35 PM »
Identity is easily managed by having a bond posted in the blockchain that is forfeit if the node doesn't make good.  The two parties can then exchange receipts as quickly as they like and then claim it at the end of the day. 

There is a point where it is cheaper to extend a free sample than attempt to collect payment for it. 
For the latest updates checkout my blog: http://bytemaster.bitshares.org
Anything said on these forums does not constitute an intent to create a legal obligation or contract between myself and anyone else.   These are merely my opinions and I reserve the right to change them at any time.

Offline amencon

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Re: mesh networking, last mile problem, and BTSX
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2014, 08:39:08 PM »
This would be a very exciting DAC to see built.  The trouble will be finding areas where adoption is concentrated enough to make it truly useful.

With a currency DAC it have value even if the network is comprised of 2 users halfway across the globe from each other, for this you'd need areas of dozens or more users in close geographical proximity.

Despite that I'd be thrilled to see someone take on the challenge and would absolutely contribute by being a node in my area.

Offline bytemaster

Re: mesh networking, last mile problem, and BTSX
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2014, 08:40:47 PM »
This wouldn't be a DAC... it would be a standardized protocol that utilizes BTSX.  The routers would be "vending machines" not part of a DAC.

For the latest updates checkout my blog: http://bytemaster.bitshares.org
Anything said on these forums does not constitute an intent to create a legal obligation or contract between myself and anyone else.   These are merely my opinions and I reserve the right to change them at any time.

Offline mbaeichapareiko

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Re: mesh networking, last mile problem, and BTSX
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2014, 08:49:15 PM »
wow,  the possibilities seem endless.  Great application and proposed real world problem/ solution demonstrated here.  digital currencies, and hopefully BTSX is able help make it happen. 


Offline Rune

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Re: mesh networking, last mile problem, and BTSX
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2014, 09:01:04 PM »
Even if it is necessary to pay per byte, a payment channel will be the most efficient way to handle microtransactions between meshnet nodes. So it could even be implemented with BTC's slow transaction times.

I don't think it will ever be possible to have "true" microtransactions (i.e. arbitrarily small stand alone payments) in a decentralized fashion in any cryptocurrency, because there will always be a flat price for distributing information to a network.

Offline amencon

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Re: mesh networking, last mile problem, and BTSX
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2014, 09:03:11 PM »
This wouldn't be a DAC... it would be a standardized protocol that utilizes BTSX.  The routers would be "vending machines" not part of a DAC.
Hmm I went back and re-read the OP more closely and see what you mean.  So each node utilizing the yet to be built protocol would use it to communicate with the BitsharesX DAC and register on the chain to move value between other nodes which do the same?

I suppose it would be an even better situation since BTSX has value outside of micro-payments to mesh networking nodes and wouldn't rely on mesh networks to thrive before being a viable way to exchange value for connection services.

Online Troglodactyl

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Re: mesh networking, last mile problem, and BTSX
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2014, 09:10:25 PM »

Offline speedy

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Re: mesh networking, last mile problem, and BTSX
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2014, 09:21:30 PM »
Isnt another big problem with incentivizing mesh networks and internet sharing is that users at the end of the mesh chain dont have any BitUSD/crypto to send to the other nodes?

Offline fussyhands

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Re: mesh networking, last mile problem, and BTSX
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2014, 09:24:41 PM »
Identity is easily managed by having a bond posted in the blockchain that is forfeit if the node doesn't make good.  The two parties can then exchange receipts as quickly as they like and then claim it at the end of the day. 

There is a point where it is cheaper to extend a free sample than attempt to collect payment for it.

Hmmm...  I remember that proposal for bitcoin a while back.  Serious impediment if you have to wait 10 minutes for the bond to confirm, but if it's only 10 seconds that is not as big a deal.

But, imagine that you had to wait 10 seconds every time you wanted to make a phone call from a new location... even to connect your laptop to wifi, a 10 second delay would be pretty annoying.

Anyway, I think it's possible to get the delay down to a few seconds, which is just on the edge of a delay that won't seriously turn people off.

 

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