Part 1: Why Skycoin has Potential
If you don’t already know what a mesh network is, then you should get acquainted with what it can do. While they are not the only technology out there that is looking to change the internet in a big way, they are quite possibly the foremost technology that is trying to do so.
Why, you might ask?
Mesh networks give us the option of breaking free of Internet Service Providers becuase of how they work. Imagine a Blockchain that facilitates internet connection for scores of people. Even though the direct comparison is not exactly valid, it might be helpful in order to understand the true utility of this sort of network. A Blockchain depends on its users to function, unless it is designed to be controlled by one organization, which many would argue is against Satoshi’s original vision with Bitcoin. In this general sense, a mesh network is no different.
Both are free of a single controlling entity. Mesh networks are, in general, groups of routers, computers, and antennas that connect to each other to facilitate, for example, a Wifi network’s functioning. I’m actually a part of a mesh network right now, in the Czech Republic. Keeping connected is as simple as paying a monthly fee to the community. If you are wondering how the amount of this fee is decided, it is as simple as everyone voting and agreeing upon it. Any technical support is also done for free by community members who want to do it. Finally, just as with the monthly fee, any member issues are solved with community meetings and votes. No one controls it completely. The network is not an organization.
If you are wondering about how fast such a connection can be, my latest speed test showed a 26.7 Mbps download rate, a 1.28 Mbps upload rate and a latency of 105 ms. This was done while I was doing the typical work session of multiple activities, all at the same time, all on my browser. In a nutshell, mesh networks have no problem with speed.
Even so, they can be better. Mesh networks have limits related to their reach because of what they are. The more users, the more reach, if the users stretch out over a long distance in a way that still brings about a reliable signal. Another way of thinking about this is that a mesh network can looks like a web with the participating nodes on the outer edges. At the same time, it can be structured with other, more convoluted configurations but in any case, one thing remains constant. At some point, the network needs to access antennas in order to increase range to the point where it can actually function from city to city or even further. Therein lies one difficulty, though others exist.
At the same, novel use cases of mesh networks can be found, due to the Blockchain and other technologies. These possibilities are where Skycoin and Skywire come in, which are both tied to a Blockchain-backed project that I first noticed at the Malta Blockchain summit. Despite the fact that they are working on a new sort of miner, a new sort of Crypto coin, and a new sort of Internet all at once, it all seems to start with the coin facilitating any and all activity.
Given this, in my next post, which I hope will include insights from the Skycoin team and Skycoin users, I will examine why this particular currency could have a unique sort of utility related to how it addresses and expands upon mesh networks. In doing so, we’ll also take in criticisms as well as logical hurdles that the project will have to overcome, in the interest of reaching a balanced conclusion. Suffice it to say for now that any project that starts by trying to improve upon Bitcoin and Ethereum’s shortcomings and moves toward the goal of changing our experience with the Internet, bears a closer look.
Until then, stay tuned. If you appreciate unbiased content on all things Blockchain for the average person, let me know and while you’re waiting, check out Skycoin for yourself.