Could Bitcoin's Lightning Power Mobile Communications? This Startup Thinks So

Published on by Coindesk | Published on

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New research from mobile mesh networking company goTenna explores how mobile communications can be decentralized with the help of bitcoin's lightning network.

GoTenna, the company behind mesh network devices for internet-less connections, is exploring a novel approach.

To that end, the GoTenna team has released a new paper describing how decentralized mesh networks for sending "Mobile communications" could be powered by bitcoin micropayments.

What's more, they've establised a new subsidiary Global Mesh Labs LLC to move forward with this goal.

"80 billion mobile messages are sent each day via carriers and. Mobile mesh networks offer an anti-fragile, decentralized alternative that can extend connectivity to places centralized networks can't," the project website argues.

One hurdle to mesh network adoption is that people aren't really incentivized to run the infrastructure required to relay data across the network, the paper argues.

GoTenna attempts to fix that by describing a new "Trust-minimized" protocol with bitcoin's lightning at the center, called Lot49, which would pay users for relaying data.

The proposal is reliant on a couple of bitcoin proposals that have been widely discussed, but haven't yet been incorporated: Schnorr and sighash noinput.

One is Schnorr, a much-anticipated, new bitcoin signature scheme that was first proposed years ago, and has seen progress recently through the release of test code.

"To reduce incentive protocol overhead we propose using signature aggregation, simplex payment channel updates and payment channels formed between mesh nodes within direct communication range," the paper explains.

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