The Zeitgeist Behind DeWi and the Path Towards a Secure Data Chain
You don’t need to go back very far to realize that individual privacy is at stake
It is no surprise to see wireless projects becoming a central piece for the future of the blockchain industry. Citizens and people around the globe are becoming more and more fascinated by the idea of becoming autonomous.
They imagine a better future that’s less dependent on big corporations and governments, and more focused on sustainability. Decentralizing wireless networks are becoming the only way forward as our privacy and our quality of life get threatened.
You don’t need to go back very far to realize that individual privacy is at stake, that individual liberties are pressured on a daily basis especially while fighting the Coronavirus, and that governments are having more and more difficulty to maintain a cohesive economic and social contract where everyone gets a chance to realize their full potential.
El Salvador just adopted Bitcoin as a reserve currency to fight its hyperinflation and provide a minimal economic safety net for its citizens. They are proving that a decentralized financial solution that is controlled by nobody was able to do a better job than their centralized bank.
Bitcoin market cap has reached almost $1 trillion, that’s higher than the GDP of more than 80 countries. El Salvador GDP is a bit more than $27 Billion and Mexico GDP for example is close to $1.2 trillion in 2021.
It is the same when it comes to the wireless industry and all the challenges it is facing to realize a world, where any single thing will end up having a wireless identity; whether it is connected all the time or not.
It means shifting from an industry used to bill monthly services to tens or hundreds of millions of individual subscribers with very high margins, to an industry that needs to connect items for a couple cents per month.
In addition, this hyperconnected world with a trillion things we are building is raising enormous problems of privacy.
While these hundreds of billions of connections need to happen in the most simple fashion, they also need to both guarantee everyone’s privacy and to happen in a secure fashion.
Therefore, the only way forward is a world in which participants or subscribers help build this decentralized wireless future to guarantee the integrity and security of the data chain.
I use the term “data chain” in comparison to the common “commodity chain.” A commodity chain process is to gather resources, transform them into goods or commodities, and finally, distribute them to consumers.
A data chain process is to collect data, sometimes gather data from multiple sources, and then route it securely and directly to its owner or to organizations and individuals that will make use of it.
There are many reasons why Decentralized Wireless (DeWi) is happening now
Blockchain technologies are enabling the validation and recording of specific transactions, tasks and work. Among the recent Proof of Work that have been created by DeWi players, you can find a Proof of Coverage, Proof of Connectivity, Proof of Location, to name a few.
All these techniques would not be possible without the advancement of blockchain technologies. This translates into a major trend, which is the ability to build wireless infrastructures without having to rely on a single central actor.
Commonly, a wireless provider would deploy its own hardware equipment, antennas and realize all the investments necessary to build its network.
That was the normal way to build a mobile network in the last 30 years. When MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) were introduced, it enabled the creation of many more mobile service providers, leading to more competition and a decrease in the cost of accessing the network.
The next phase we are experiencing goes one step further, it removes the need for any hardware investment making CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) for a new generation of wireless services no longer necessary.
That’s because people are ready to either realize that investment or because they already have hardware equipment that can be leveraged for that purpose.
We saw that trend with shared WiFi networks like Infinity, Fon, Free, Orange and many more providers of data access. The next wave of decentralized wireless networks is seeing LoRaWAN, Bluetooth, 4G and 5G networks being built in the same way.
The difference is that now these Proof of Work consensus mechanisms can provide individuals revenues for setting up and maintaining these infrastructures.
Regulators and open standards are the second trend that make this transformation possible
Recently, many countries have started to open wireless spectrum that was previously only accessible if it was purchased as part of a bidding process for licenses.
This spectrum is commonly called CBRS, which stands for Citizens Broadband Radio Service, and is expected to reduce the cost of data transmission while promoting innovations and welcoming new entrants as neutral host providers.
Additionally, many wireless standards do not require a license and have been growing their presence in the IoT space. For example, more than 50% of all IoT devices manufactured now have a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) interface.
Other standards like LorRaWAN have been widely adopted for enabling sensor data transmissions in areas with very little or no coverage. WiFi is now in its version 6.
Innovations in the wireless space ranging from the miniaturization of radios to spectrum efficiencies are accelerating the growth of the volume of connected devices and things
The size of wireless radios and their cost is decreasing rapidly, and soon many of them will be printed directly onto things. 5G and other technologies like pCell are exploiting interferences to increase the volume of data transmitted for the same width of spectrum.
It is predictable to say spectrum efficiency should improve by a factor of 10x to 20x.
The creation of a secure data chain is key for the fabric of society as it will enable demand and supply to match more often for any of the services and commodities being exchanged constantly.
Only when this connectivity layer is in place will modern civilization have a chance to shift the race for controlling resources to a race for creating more innovations.