BitMesh: Offering Internet Connectivity In Exchange For Bitcoin

BitMesh: Offering Internet Connectivity In Exchange For Bitcoin

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BitMesh is a service that allows users to share internet connectivity and bandwidth. With the use of Bitcoin micropayments servers in the network gain incentive to share. The development team is lead by Andrew Donley, founder and CEO, Christopher Smith, CTO/Chief Technology Officer, and Christian Lunoe, COO/Chief Operating Officer. The team has a working prototype server, and users who wish to buy and sell internet connections will be able to join the BitMesh network.

“BitMesh’s “ Wi-Fi Marketplace” allows people to leverage existing devices to share their internet connection with peers in exchange for monetary incentives.”

BitMesh in a very basic description is a Mesh Network sharing economy using Bitcoin as a medium for both the buyer and seller. The service offers prepaid bandwidth offered by clients for essentially anyone in need of internet service. Offering more inclusion and choice in the world of Internet services. BitMesh is leading the pack in innovation with its unique form of Mesh Net technology.

Bitcoin.com had an in depth discussion with BitMesh to get a crisp visual of what they are doing, the services they are developing, and Mesh Nets in general:

Bitcoin.com: The phrase “ All Mesh Networks Are Not Created Equal”, would you agree with this?

Christopher Smith, CTO/Chief Technology Officer: “Equal” is a word with many definitions. Certainly different networks have different sizes, topologies, speeds, bottlenecks. It’s all about which details you choose to blur out.

We take a more loose definition of “mesh network” than some others. Network topologies exist on a spectrum, with purely decentralized P2P architectures on one end, and completely centralized star topologies on the other (see image). When we call ourselves BitMesh, it is because we intend to push internet topology in the decentralized direction. We aren’t ideologically attached to a specific topology, because we don’t claim to know what the right topology for the internet is. In fact, we don’t think anyone really knows what the right topology is, because it’s constantly changing. Instead, we want to decrease the internet’s viscosity, to lower the barrier to entry to becoming a reseller of connectivity, so the internet can morph more easily and find its own equilibrium more quickly. Right now extending internet infrastructure generally requires very deep pockets and a long vision. We hope to make it easier. The equilibrium will probably still involve some nodes being bigger and more connected than others. Very few, if any, distributions in life are perfectly uniform, so we aren’t trying to force the internet into any particular set of ideology-boxes. We just want to make it bigger and better.

BC: Can you explain to our readers how BitMesh operates by offering incentive to share bandwidth?

Christian Lunoe, COO/Chief Operating Officer: BitMesh’s “ Wi-Fi Marketplace” allows people to leverage existing devices to share their internet connection with peers in exchange for monetary incentives. A seller is a user who has an existing internet connection or excess bandwidth capacity and is willing to share that with other users within the network. Buyers are users who are willing to pay for the privilege of connectivity, whether it be for a few minutes or a few months. BitMesh’s adaptive pricing encourages sellers to offer the highest quality connection to areas that have the most demand, while it also encourages increased buyer activity with a diminishing marginal cost of connectivity.

BC: Can you describe the Marketplace?

Christian Lunoe: BitMesh’s “Wi-Fi Marketplace” enables machine-to-machine transactions. That is to say that there is no need for human interaction to negotiate a contract or facilitate payments. This creates a low-friction user experience for both buyers and sellers.

As the marketplace and user base grows, BitMesh will evolve the platform from a series of individual hotspots to a true mesh network where buyers can take advantage of a competitive market. Sellers compete on price and quality of service and traffic is routed through multiple nodes within the network to deliver internet connectivity.

Christopher Smith: Using micropayment channels, we can automatically meter your bandwidth usage, so that buyers only pay for what they use. Essentially it’s a kind of trustless escrow technology that allows many payments to be made securely off chain, and only posting the summed result to the blockchain. The result is very high resolution payments with very low overhead.

This also allows for the possibility of peak-load pricing, to allow prices to reflect the scarcity or abundance of bandwidth to maintain a high quality of service.

BC: Developing mobile ad hoc networks and mesh networks has recently grown in size globally. Why do you think Mesh Networks are gaining more attention?

Christopher Smith: I think globally, the internet is moving towards a more decentralized model.The benefits of being able to easily communicate with other humans are tremendous, as communication is often the biggest bottleneck in working together with people. “Information wants to be free”, as they say. On the other hand, nature is full of hierarchies of scale, from the structure of galaxies to structure of the neocortex, so I don’t expect to see all internet hierarchies wiped out anytime soon. The centralization bottlenecks will be burned up until they are at least as useful as they are costly.

Christian Lunoe: Through the BitMesh “Wi-Fi Marketplace,” we are able to incentivize users to help extend the infrastructure of the internet. While most commonly think of an application of our technology in densely populated urban areas, there is immense value in extending connectivity to rural, underserved populations. Our ideal state is to have “power sellers” who develop business models wherein they use our platform to extend the reach of the internet to the fringe, and beyond.

 “A certain amount of decentralization of the internet is crucial to the integrity of the blockchain, because otherwise Sybil attacks become very easy for the central star-points. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s necessary or even desirable for the internet to be “pure-mesh”. If it took more than 10 minutes for a block to be routed and transmitted across the globe, it might make it difficult to arrive at consensus. It’s a complex issue.”

BC: Do you think these Networks will overthrow traditional networking and communications?

Christian Lunoe: Mesh networks and traditional networks will coexist. We cannot ignore the value of the existing infrastructure that has been built, and the value that the backbone provides. That said, when the business model of traditional networks would lead to little or no investment in communities that would not provide a large ROI, we think that BitMesh, and mesh networks overall, provide immense value.

Christopher Smith: “Overthrow” is a dramatic word. I think of it more as evolution. Old things decay and get consumed by new things, but I don’t think this will mean all hierarchies and backbones will be annihilated. The internet would be a lot slower if we had no backbones, and that infrastructure takes energy to create and maintain. I think that feature is going to stick around, at least for the immediate future.

I do expect that monopolies are going to be harder and harder to maintain, and that’s a good thing for everybody in the long run.

BC: Cjdns is being used in a few networks abroad, does BitMesh use this?

Christopher Smith: BitMesh does not currently us Cjdns, although we may integrate it in the future. Andrew (CEO & President of BitMesh) and I are both super nerdy and into that sort of thing, but we’ve been focusing on making a simple platform and marketplace for an average user without the extra configuration requirements of Cjdns.

Christian Lunoe: We don’t want to create additional friction for new buyers and sellers, many of whom may discover BitMesh’s marketplace incidentally out of need more so than curiosity. That’s an important philosophy to our company. Everything we’re building is designed to create a robust, inclusive network of everyday users.

BC: Would you say Mesh Networks offer Inclusion to technology and open source data?

Christopher Smith: There’s already billions of devices around the world that could be routing but aren’t, and we think that’s an interesting opportunity. If a community is already oriented around technological inclusivity and open source principles, then making networks more “meshy” will encourage those principles.BC: In Hong Kong, during the protests last year ‘Firechat’ was used. How do you feel about Mesh Networks bypassing governments? Can BitMesh also achieve this?Christopher Smith: We think the internet is wonderful and don’t want anybody to be able to shut it off, regardless of who they work for.BitMesh could be used in similar situations, but it’s not a panacea. Freedom will not come with a single technology or in a single leap, but we think better communication will help a lot.

BC: Micropayment channel technology. Is it incentive enough to globalize the Mesh Network idea?

Christopher Smith: We think if each piece of internet infrastructure can pay for itself in proportion to how valuable it is to the network, then that will encourage a healthier internet.

One of the major selling points of micropayment technology to us is that it can keep the difference between what has been paid and what has been received arbitrarily small, reducing the incentive for either party to fraud the other.

BC: Some would say Mesh Nets are crucial to Bitcoin and the survival of the Blockchain. Would you guys agree with this?

Christopher Smith: A certain amount of decentralization of the internet is crucial to the integrity of the blockchain, because otherwise Sybil attacks become very easy for the central star-points. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s necessary or even desirable for the internet to be “pure-mesh”. If it took more than 10 minutes for a block to be routed and transmitted across the globe, it might make it difficult to arrive at consensus. It’s a complex issue.

What do you think of the integration of Bitcoin and Mesh Networks? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Redmemes