Introducing the Marconi Protocol — Part 1

Shortly, our white paper will be published and we detail the technology the team has been developing over the last year. Ahead of that here is an excerpt from the white-paper introduction:

Blockchain technology has often been proposed as a solution to the problems inherent with centralized systems. Globally, the $350 billion blockchain ecosystem consists of over 1600 projects that are developing decentralized computing, storage, and a suite of applications to realize a decentralized future. But these projects all continue to build atop the same underlying network infrastructure consisting of switches and routers connected by Ethernet, a foundation which remains fragile due to three fundamental problems.

The first is that today’s network infrastructure is insecure. This is because it’s powered by Ethernet, a networking technology that has improved in terms of bandwidth but otherwise has gone relatively unchanged for the past 30 years. Ethernet was devised during an age unconcerned with privacy and security when the main focus was instead on connectivity, thus Ethernet has no encryption built into its design. This exposes raw network packets, allowing internet service providers and governments to easily monitor and surveil user activity. Unfortunately, common network security protocols operate at several layers higher up the stack (see Figure 1 and note TLS and SSL occurring at OSI layer 4 and above), while Ethernet remains insecure at layer 2. Therefore these security protocols don’t protect the entire network packet, leaving network traffic vulnerable to attacks like traffic pattern analysis and packet injection.

The second problem is that core network infrastructure is inflexible and difficult to manage. The switches, routers, and bridges that form the network are hardware driven and expensive to buy, configure, and maintain. Adding network capacity or new functionality like intrusion detection and prevention systems or load balancing typically requires installing new network appliances. Even upgrading existing equipment can cost considerable overhead since updates may require firmware changes which in some cases must be done on-site.

The final problem is that current network infrastructure is centrally controlled. In any given region, a small number of entities — often just one or two internet service providers — serve as the gateway for all internet traffic. When the internet service provider suffers fiber cuts, equipment failure, or purposely interrupts service to perform maintenance, all users lose internet access. Businesses get hit especially hard as loss of internet can halt operations or productivity. In addition, this monopolistic control is problematic for countries that lack net neutrality now that blockchain networks have grown to considerable sizes. As of February 1, 2018, Ethereum’s blockchain data directory size is 669 gigabytes and has been growing by 416% annually. As blockchain adoption continues, blockchain traffic will likely fall under the crosshairs of internet service providers. Unfortunately, this centrally controlled infrastructure that we’ve described is the platform on which the blockchain ecosystem depends (see Figure 2), an ecosystem where new projects are constantly emerging with the goal of decentralizing the services we use every day.


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