With Bitcoin’s price skyrocketing recently, many traders have their eyes and minds on the moon. Blockstream, the blockchain technology company, quite literally wants to put Bitcoin in outer space with the use of satellites. It is offering access to the Bitcoin network for everyone on earth, projected from space!
Bitcoin in Space
Those of us familiar with Bitcoin know that decentralization is a key feature of the network. However, those of us living in Western nations often take our ease of access to the network for granted. There are scores of people on this planet that do not have reliable access to the internet, and thus access to the Bitcoin network. Bitcoin has struggled with this issue since its inception. If Bitcoin really aims to free people from centralized institutions, it needs to be accessible by everyone. The idea of broadcasting the Bitcoin network from space is not new, but Blockstream has finally made it a reality.
Even without Wi-Fi or other means of accessing the Internet, anyone in the world can now have free access to the Bitcoin network. The company did not even mention they had been working on this until after it was successful. Over two-thirds of the earth’s surface area is now covered by three satellites carrying and broadcasting the network, but the Blockstream team plans to increase the number of satellites to encompass the entirety of the planet.
To access the network, one must first establish a connection with the satellites. The Blockstream team is confident that this is a relatively low barrier to entry. In fact, Blockstream’s CEO has claimed that the connection to the network should not cost more than US$100 in equipment. Apparently one can even use an old TV satellite dish to establish a connection. Once the connection is set up, it is free to use.
The new service benefits the network as well as users by removing bandwidth issues and improving security, but it also helps Blockstream. Offering a free service to millions of people around the world positions the company very powerfully. Its influence over the Bitcoin network and the community may have just been solidified even more.
We Need More Services Like This
It is exciting to see Blockstream launching a much-needed project such as this one. Bitcoin desperately needs to reach more communities outside the Western world and affluent regions. For Bitcoin to truly be the currency of the people, it needs to be available to everyone. However, other companies must also begin offering services like this one. A monopoly on free distributed networks means a centralization of power, something that Bitcoin needs to avoid.
Regardless, Blockstream taking the first step toward the distributed and free access to the Bitcoin network from anywhere in the world is breathtaking. Hopefully, other similar projects will get off the ground soon, as Bitcoin’s rising price has helped bring more attention to the network lately.