Taking inspiration from Satoshi’s whitepaper, engineer Daneel Uys tells Bitcoin.com how BitData can enable peer-to-peer exchange of mobile data in the same fashion value is transmitted over the Bitcoin network today.
BitData: A Peer-to-Peer Mobile Data System
Daneel Uys is a South African researcher and a senior electrical engineer. He is the author of the whitepaper titled “BitData: A Peer-to-Peer Mobile Data System”, in which he proposes a system for exchanging bits of data in P2P fashion similar to how bits of value are transferred on the Bitcoin network.
Bitcoin.com spoke with Uys on how the BitData concept could revolutionize internet access, mimicking Satoshi’s writing style, and why telecoms could be the biggest beneficiaries of this technology.
Bitcoin.com (BC): What inspired the BitData concept? What major problem does it solve?
Daneel Uys (DU): The #datamustfall (twitter hashtag) is a movement that started in South Africa because telecom companies charge such high fees for data. This got me thinking, how can I innovate or help overcome this issue? This is an issue close to my heart. South Africa (and Africa) have many poor people, that just cannot afford these ridiculously high data costs, this could contribute to the fact that only 3 in 10 people in Africa are connected to the internet. South Africa’s economy is also struggling to grow as it should, and to the potential it has.
BitData has the potential to revolutionize the entire world’s way of internet distribution.
The World Bank estimates that for every 10% penetration of internet access, a country’s GDP grows by 1.28%. South Africa and Africa needs this desperately. With all of this in mind, I was constantly thinking about a solution: at the same time I was consumed by Bitcoin and Blockchain technology – basically I woke up one morning with a crystal clear vision of BitData in my mind, I just needed to write it down. As I wrote it down I realized that this is not just a small solution to South Africa’s problems but has the potential to revolutionize the entire world’s way of internet distribution.
BC: Why did you choose the writing style of Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto?
DU: I am a big fan of Bitcoin and Blockchain technology and the possibilities that it holds for the financial industry as well as its ability to store value, helping people to hedge against inflation and financial instability. While writing the BitData concept I realized the enormous potential its implementation holds. I thought BitData deserved more than just a simple blog post so I decided to write it properly and what better template to use than Satoshi’s whitepaper on Bitcoin.
BC: Can BitData work on the Bitcoin blockchain or do you envision it using its own token, blockchain?
DU: I am sure it could work on the Bitcoin blockchain; however I envisage it having its own blockchain with its own token, which I refer to as BitData credits in my paper. I envision BitData as a protocol that runs in the background of billions of Wi-Fi enabled devices, spreading the internet all over the world without the need for large mobile telecom infrastructure.
I envision BitData as a protocol that runs in the background of billions of Wi-Fi enabled devices, spreading the internet all over the world without the need for large mobile telecom infrastructure.
Imagine a future where, for instance, the Internet of Things runs the BitData protocol: “Your neighbor picks up his phone to browse the internet; somebody is sharing his internet connection via Wi-Fi but is out of your neighbor’s range. Luckily a path exists between him and the guy sharing his internet. This path may consist of your car, fridge, TV, set top box(es), PC, or even just your phone or any Wi-Fi enabled device, fixed or mobile any- and everywhere, etc.
The data (in the background) seamlessly bounces from one device to the next connecting the “receiver” and the “originator” with each other. Your neighbor gives up some of his BitData credits and everybody in the chain who “worked” to deliver the data to him gets a share of the credits (or tokens as you put it). This incentivizes participation in the system – you now have credits to browse the internet because your phone/car/fridge etc. transmitted data without you even knowing they did.
BC: Since the Originator node in BitData still sources its internet from an IP provider, won’t they see this type of “data sharing” as “data stealing” much like we’ve seen with digital media?
DU: This may be their first reaction (or one at least), but the internet is a “road.” What I drive on the road with and where I am going is my prerogative! With BitData I pay the ISP upfront and thus get the legal right to use it the way I want, so long as I don’t contravene existing laws and regulations, etc. The ISP does not own any data; they only provide the means to an end. The ISP gets its cut and if they are clever, they may benefit tremendously from BitData (but this is another conversation!).
If they have further problems, they have to complain about many Apps using the internet as backbone in a similar way. Anyways, BitData will be a disruptive technology that, when fully/correctly implemented, will most likely change the internet landscape, moving the power of providing internet from telecom company monopolies to individuals.
BC: Why can’t a person just use a Telecom gift card for wireless minutes instead? What is the incentive to use BitData for the average person?
DU: Telecom gift cards costs money and takes time to buy. If you are on the BitData system, things happen seamlessly no need to buy cards etc. Gift cards are not even a drop in the bucket in terms of the number of people getting them! Price, true mobility and most importantly: people can “reward” themselves by participating and using BitData. Also, people want to belong, even if it is belonging to a user community. BitData creates a community: “I am using BitData, are you?”
BC: Who stands to benefit the most from BitData? Who are the target users?
DU: People not currently connected to the internet or who find current data prices too expensive. Target: Everybody using the internet.
BC: BitData requires a high population density to run smoothly. What is the user threshold required to roll out a functional BitData network?
DU: Theoretically BitData needs only 2 overlapping devices. Afterwards there is no threshold; it depends only on proximity of any number of nodes (overlaps), which is not constrained in any way. I suspect in the beginning phases, BitData will start of isolated (unless as I say in the paper, Android implements it), in smaller meshes i.e. everybody in a building, school, workplace or any local group who agrees to use it because of its value.
You should not have to walk towards a Wi-Fi hotspot to connect to it, it should be everywhere.
Each one of these meshes will probably have only a few internet data entry point (fixed line or mobile). I think that over time these smaller meshes will become interlinked, growing and growing until its coverage is great enough that mobile data telecom companies are no longer needed. Their existing infrastructure becomes only other additional nodes.
BC: This technology would probably have the greatest benefit for people living in remote and rural areas (since people in cities already have access to many hotspots). How do you think this problem can be solved for BitData?
DU: I think it will be of benefit to all internet users. You should not have to walk towards a Wi-Fi hotspot to connect to it, it should be everywhere. You should not have to spend time connecting to the Wi-Fi hotspot nor pay for it. The BitData protocol keeps everything connected, because everything is running BitData there is no need to insert passwords or pay to connect to a hotspot. Hotspots are geographically fixed, which is a major drawback compared to BitData. Then, BitData users can reward themselves: Psychologically this is a major attraction that must not be underestimated!
BC: How is security addressed? How is users’ data secured on this P2P network?
DU: Something that everyone should be aware of is that nothing is “unhackable.” Obviously encryption and security procedures will be implemented as far possible but I am hoping that even hackers would see the global good BitData could do for them and everyone else and support it rather than exploit it.
BC: In other words, BitData tokens will be “backed” by Internet access or bytes to be exact. Do telecoms need to accept BitData tokens directly for the token to be viable/tradable or can this be a micro-economy of sorts among just the Internet users?
DU: There are a few ways of implementing this, the details may vary depending on how the system progresses. It could be a closed system where the tokens are simply exchanged between the 3 types of node. Or an open system with exchanges involved. Both are viable options to implement.
BC: How and by whom are these tokens generated and what is the consensus mechanism (PoW, PoS)?
DU: The details of this are not yet known, but again many implementation methods are possible. i.e. the transmitting/originating work done could be seen as the PoW/PoS.
BC: Why should IP providers adopt BitData? What do they stand to gain?
DU: Market share. Presence. Contribution to social upliftment. Potentially a new source of revenue/advertisement? Why should banks embrace Blockchain and Bitcoin/Altcoin technologies? If they don’t they will become obsolete. This is the nature of decentralization; power will in future not reside with monopolies like banks and telecom companies. Bitcoin is changing banking, BitData will change internet distribution.
A PDF copy of the BitData whitepaper is available here. Uys is also looking for people to help him with the proof of concept and to set up a demonstration. Anyone interested can contact him via his LinkedIn profile.
Do you think BitData can do for internet access like Bitcoin did for money? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, LinkedIn
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