Blockstream’s Satellite coverage is going global

Blockstream's new Satellite updates allow anyone to broadcast messages to the world, paid for in Bitcoin

Blockstream Satellite, a groundbreaking project that broadcasts the Bitcoin blockchain from space, has today announced it’ll provide global coverage and an updated access API.

The all-new interactive services will allow users to broadcast their own messages via the satellite network around the world.

“While satellite communications have traditionally been cost-prohibitive, Blockstream Satellite will finally allow developers to adopt satellite communications in their applications,” said Chris Cook, head of the Blockstream Satellite project.

Chris went on to say that the new API will open up the possibility for new and novel applications such as “natural disaster notifications, secure personal messaging, and sending Bitcoin market data to remote locations.”

Expanding coverage

Previously, Blockstream Satellite covered North and South America, Europe, and Africa. The addition of the Asia-Pacific region to Satellite brings free access to some of the most populous areas of the world. This will now mean that any messages sent via the network will reach almost anyone on the planet.

The current Satellite implementation by Blockstream is carried out on a leased bandwidth allocation, with four satellites covering the transmission of data across the Americas, Europe, and Africa. With phase two launching today, the network will now move to full global coverage across every continent.

The project should provide network stability by using an alternative method for receiving the Bitcoin blockchain that is not affected by connection failure (like over a regular ISP). This will protect users against network interruptions and prevents any full node from becoming isolated or partitioned from the network.

How does it actually work?

The Blockstream Satellite ground stations (known as teleports) participate in the satellite network by transmitting blocks to geosynchronous satellites. Following this transmission, the geosynchronous satellites receive the signal from the teleports and broadcast it across a wide portion of the Earth.

From this broadcast, anyone in the coverage area with a small satellite antenna and an inexpensive USB receiver can receive these blocks and ensure that their Bitcoin node is always in sync.

With all this in place, the Blockstream Satellite network now forms a ring around the planet to ensure that the Bitcoin network has full redundancy from any potential malicious denial of service-type attackers.

Proper encryption

Users will pay any fees for sending messages with Satellite via Bitcoin’s Lightning Network. Not only does Lightning allow for per-kilobyte microtransactions, but its ‘onion-routing’ technology allows users to safely protect their identities.

Combined with proper encryption, the Blockstream Satellite API allows for totally private broadcasts where neither the sender, nor receiver, nor the content of a message is known to Blockstream or any third parties.

Private transactions

Blockstream CEO Adam Back was recently at LABitConf in Chile talking about the idea behind Blocksteam Satellite. He said, “It’s important for Bitcoin’s security as it enables people to have better control of their assets.”

“Running a full node is somewhat expensive as it requires a lot of bandwidth to do so. With this, we wanted to make a cheaper way for people to receive Bitcoin transactions.”

If you are running a Bitcoin node today, chances are that your ISP (internet service provider) can see the traffic. “If you use Satellite, then no one can see what you’re doing,” said privacy advocate Adam.

Reaching over 90% of the world’s population

As part of Blockstream’s announcement, Adam Back added that “The launch of the Blockstream Satellite API represents the next step in global Bitcoin infrastructure.”

“For the first time, everyone has open access to a broadcast medium completely external to the internet, bringing reliable message transmission and Bitcoin access to the remotest of locations. With the Asia-Pacific expansion, Blockstream Satellite users are now able to reach over 90% of the world’s population with their messages. All of this is made possible thanks to micropayments enabled by Bitcoin and the Lightning Network.”

Users wanting Blockstream Satellite access in the Asia-Pacific region can get access now by downloading the latest software from the Blockstream Satellite site. The same software also includes an update required for API access, scheduled to go live in early January 2019.


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