@arcalinea you make a lot of good points, especially around trying to drive consensus around an elastic network, where you have nodes coming online and then offline. Trying to predict and serve supply and demand becomes extremely difficult in that situation.
Take any large city. During the day you have a mass of users in industrial and business districts, freeways, and public transit. At night, that capacity returns back to living spaces, causing gaps across the network, and overcapacity in other areas.
In my vision, a permanent mesh network will need static masternodes to solidify the network. However, even these static nodes can be in a mesh topology, and they can also spin up or spin down much like cloud servers do. (In the true decentralized model, the concept of “server” completely disappears, as services are no longer tied to a physical host, but that’s a side topic, and it’s easier to just leave them on 24/7).
The zero-start problem is exactly one that blockchain can help solve. because of the incentive to end users. Masternodes are quite lucrative for their owners in many projects. GoTenna already has a similar concept with static relays, so the idea is already there, but existing on a donation basis.
If you are incentiving the users to build static nodes, they will foot the whole capitalization build out, along with paying for the electricity and cooling. Telecoms spend enormous amounts of money every year on maintaining infrastructure. Imagine this cost being reduced or even eliminated by having the network build it out, but also sharing in the profits.
I guess I would start with the old cliché, what problem are we trying to solve here? If it’s to grow the GoTenna network, keep the same spectrum, and just build out the emergency network to co-exist alongside existing infrastructure, well, I am not sure blockchain is worth looking at right now, and maybe better off revisiting as the network scales and more use cases come to light.
However, if the goal is to build something bigger, expand the spectrum, continuously improve the hardware and infrastructure, with the end goal to expand services to re-decentralize the web, in order to compete with the ATTs and Verizons, then blockchain makes absolute perfect sense.
There are projects out there already with the latter vision, but from what I’ve seen, the GoTenna hardware, community, and network is already miles ahead of them. Out of all the projects I’ve looked at, this one seems to be the most obvious to me as a problem that can be solved, and a platform that’s already up and solving it.
Regarding the partitioning, I’d say that is definitely a challenge with a mesh network. However, the scope of each mesh network can be provisioned out like this:
- Neighborhood network
- District network
- Citywide network
- Statewide network
- Regional network
- National Network
- Continental Network
- Worldwide network
The neighborhood network is obviously the easiest to solve. Many houses, townhomes, apartments, and business, can already communicate with each other over existing home networking equipment, due to their close proximity.
As the distance grows, that’s where things like static nodes, and bridges become critical. However, the incentives for closing those gaps should also be increased substantially. Depending on strategy and legislation, it may even be possible to sell back capacity to the telecoms in the same way that excess solar generation can be sold back to the power company.
A good model here is one you have probably read about, the Brooklyn neighborhood that is using the blockchain to share electricity:
Non-blockchain projects like SunPort and Arcadia Power have taken this to a national level, through energy certificates, allowing home consumers, who don’t have access to solar or wind, to source 100% of their power from these sources. The consumers are opting in to these services, and help drive additional capacity and buildout. Other projects like Power Ledger and WePower are even trying to cross national borders for a worldwide energy system.
I also bring up clean energy projects because it shows the pent up demand that I sense is also here with decentralized network services. Consumers are fed up with high fees, slow speeds, privacy, and reliability issues.
So I would say, the goal would be to try and get a neighborhood up and running, then once that’s successful, try and get two neighborhoods up and running, and then go from there. I’m sure this was originally done with GoTenna testing.
Regarding DAG systems like IOTA/Tangle, you are right to point out the roll your own crypto issue, along with having a good solid use case that’s out of the lab. IOTA also is reliant on coordinator nodes, which are controversial because they are considered centralized and a crutch until the network is able to achieve a scale where they are no longer needed. They are definitely not an “out of the box” solution, and could take quite a bit of R&D time to find a workable solution.
I don’t think IOTA is the end all, be all solution, but the Tangle protocol is instructive to look at to drive the type of protocols that match an elastic, low-bandwidth /payload type of network.
Ethereum still has the best portfolio of use cases, although sleeper Factom counts Bank of America and Sony Pictures among their clients, and have a grant from the Gates Foundation. They are more about storage, though, but just mentioning them as a reference as I thought they do a good job of illustrating the problems they are solving.
Appreciate your thoughtful comments.