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Streaming the Dash Blockchain to the whole Planet from Geosynchronous Satellites

Discussion in 'Pre + Budget Proposal Discussions' started by Gilemon, Oct 9, 2017.

  1. Gilemon

    Gilemon New Member

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    How about beaming the live blockchain around the World using satellite services that would provide free access to the DASH network?

    Let me give you an example to illustrate how it could work:

    Alice is a prominent mountain guide. She spends most of her time above the timberline with no connection to the rest of the world. She has no interest and very little time to spend in cities. Dealing with the hassle of online banking is the last of her concerns.
    Bob is a business owner in a small village in the valley. The village has roads but very expensive and intermittent access to internet with aggressive data caps. His shop sells the food and equipment necessary for organising mountaineering expeditions. Bob also sells Wi-Fi access to traveler and he is a good friend of Alice. He proposes her services online.
    Carol lives in a world-class city. Her 23rd floor apartment is connected to internet by gigabit fibre. She is organising her upcoming challenge to the mountains. She wants to climb with Alice. Bob sends Alice’s DASH address to Carol. Carol transfer the agreed amount within the next block. The block is broadcasted by satellite to Bob’s full node. Bob can tell Alice that the transaction has been confirmed and she can book Carol into her schedule.
    Alice has her funds secured within the DASH blockchain. She can use them as she wishes, for instance spending them at Bob’s shop next time she goes back to the village.​

    The project would be very similar to Outernet (local news, weather, crop prices) or Blockstream (Bitcoin) as it does not require to launch new dedicated satellites into space, but rather rents frequency from existing providers.
    It would target applications for the billions of people who still have zero or very limited access to internet due to many factors. These can be due to financial or political reasons or even due to intermittent natural or atmospheric conditions. Living in such a forsaken place half of the year myself, I do realise the importance of filling this gap and of enabling the infinite possibilities that the wild wide world has to offer.

    Pros:
    1. DASH leading R&D in blockchain broadcasting
    2. Serving potential DASH users all over the world in places beyond the reach of the usual internet
    3. Increasing decentralisation and optimising distribution
    4. Enable off-grid DASH applications (outdoor events, remote festivals, mining)
    5. Easier to develop air-gap applications and networks
    6. Increasing network resiliency in case of localised catastrophic events (disaster, war)
    7. Countering political intervention and censorship
    8. Countless future application that yet to be discovered
    Cons:
    1. Cost of satellite capacity leasing per month
    2. Some applications can already be addressed with SPV clients (Electrum-DASH)

    I would be most interested to hear the thoughts, considerations, or technical challenges the DASH community may have on this proposal.

    My company nThinking and I, do have extensive experience dealing with large engineering corporations. We currently work in railway, logistics and telecom industries and we’d be very interested in working on such project. I already have some figures about market price for leasing a test link and I think that is within DASH monthly budget bracket. I also have more technical information references and project scheduling to share as I have already put quite a lot of thought into this. If you’re interested, this will be posted here very soon.
     
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  2. tungfa

    tungfa Administrator
    Dash Core Team Foundation Member Masternode Owner/Operator Moderator

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    Gilemon is a very good old friend of mine, one of the few who actually understood me when i was constantly babbling about Darkcoin back then ;)

    interesting read , i wonder what the community thinks
     
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  3. Name3

    Name3 Member

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    Depending on your fully fleshed out plan this is definitely something that I think would be worth funding! Looking forward to learning about your company, and how you would go about accomplishing this.
     
  4. stan.distortion

    stan.distortion Active Member

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    Hell yes! :) Another use is simple vending machine type situations when all the machine needs to know is a payment has been made. There was a Bitcoin project for doing something like that with digital radio in Sweden (iirc) a few years back, not sure if it ever gained any ground but something like that with global coverage would open up a lot of options. Dash In Space!!

    Fwiw, I met Gilemon at the Dash conference and have no doubts whatsoever that he can make this happen.
     
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  5. Beru

    Beru Member

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    Can we have a little idea how much it cost to rent what we need to have the dash blockchain supported on satellites.
     
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  6. Gilemon

    Gilemon New Member

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    Yes this is coming very soon. I'll post this during the week with more technical information.
     
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  7. stan.distortion

    stan.distortion Active Member

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    Something keeps niggling at me with this. Ages ago there was a lot of discussion on a distributed courier service using bitcoin, kind of like Uber for post. GPS data as part of multisig was one possible method of handling payments and I'm certain GPS data coupled with satellite broadcasting of transactions opens up some possibility but I can't think what it is :/
     
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  8. Gilemon

    Gilemon New Member

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    Thanks for putting some thoughts into the possible use cases. I'm excited to look at all the doors that this new information pipeline can open for MN applications and the rest of the network.

    As I have mentioned, I am working on finalizing a detailed estimate of the proposal I have posted. I am still engaged in discussions in order to establish the most appropriate geographical coverage to price ratio for an initial testing phase. 

    The two best candidates so far are Africa on L-Band or Asia on C-Band. The discussions happening at this stage will be very valuable in order to choose the best telecommunication partners for moving to the production phase that intend to cover the rest of the world.
     
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  9. codablock

    codablock Official Dash Dev
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    Did you check the available bandwidth options? I know that Blockstream Satelite for example is currently limited to 64kbits/s. Their solution uses forward error correction codes to mitigate some of the errors that might happen in transmission. This however reduces the available bandwidth as it adds redundant data to the stream. They are currently able to send just about 1mb per 10 minutes with this. With Dash however, we currently have a maximum of 1mb per 2.5 minutes and at the same time plan to go to much larger blocks. We will easily hit the technical limits here and require a bandwidth that will probably be much too expensive.

    The Bitcoin P2P network has some nice block propagation optimizations (compact blocks in Bitcoin Core and XTHIN blocks in Bitcoin Unlimited) which are based on reusing data from local mempools. This reduces very huge blocks to just a few kb if the mempool is warmed up enough. A one-way transmission solution won't be able to use such optimizations. (We plan to add either compact blocks or XTHIN to Dash as well).

    Also, there are 2 additional problems with one-way transmission which I currently see as unsolved.
    1. How are you going to do the initial block download? If it requires a normal internet connection, you lose most of the benefits. Ok, you can ignore this if you're just interested in new blocks to check for incoming payments, but then you can't do full validation and fully trust the incoming data. People suggested to "simply" buy a DVD or hard drive with pre-loaded blocks and then use a backup internet connection to catch up to the tip of the chain, so that the satellite stream can be used afterwards. TBH, this sounds horrible.
    2. What if you loose too much data so that forward error correction does not work? For example, when your node crashes or has to be restarted. Or if you're unlucky and it's too cloudy. You loose blocks in this case and won't be able to extend the nodes chain anymore unless you have a normal internet connection as backup.

    There are also a few more problems in combination with Dash specific features. For example, instant send won't be usable because it can't be verified without knowledge about all the running masternodes. This would require additional data to be included into the stream, which would have the same problems as in 1. and 2. from above.

    IMHO, streaming blockchain data through satellites is not worth it as long as bandwidth is so low. Also, if there is no way to make this work without a second internet connection...why not use a SPV node then and just connect to 1 or 2 nodes? You'll receive 80 bytes (+ some small overhead) every few minutes and a few kb per incoming transaction.
     
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  10. Gilemon

    Gilemon New Member

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    That's great you're starting this discussion as your are raising very important questions about the bandwidth requirement. It's truly much appreciated that you're stepping in the nuts and bolts of this complexe undertaking.

    Yes and indeed we are currently looking into 64kbits/s for C-Band and slightly less for L-Band. L-Band being more expensive as their is less bandwidth available but super cheap to work with on the ground. So it's very adapted for small budget terminals that can withstand harsh weather conditions.

    We are considering to use 1/3 forward error correction and at 64kbits/s this will still translate to over 200 mb per day. To my understanding it's plenty enough to keep the blockchain synchronised but I'd be very interested to learn more about the maximum of 1mb per 2.5 minutes requirement.

    Also we are also currently testing both Blockstream (Ku-Band) and Outernet (L-band) in order to assess the performance of these solutions.

    Yes you're right not doable with one-way transmission. But once we have tackled the technical and integration challenges of the testing phase, these awesome features can be integrated in a future upgrade phase with bi-directional transmission on ku-Band. This will add some cost on the terminal hardware requirement (bigger dish, low noise LNB), but the endusers who are interested in these features will have an incentive to upgrade accordingly.

    We are planning to develop a scheduler that rebroadcast blocks when their is unused transmission slots. We need to plan it properly, but we're considering to rebroadcast the whole blockchain (4.5G?) every month or even week.

    Yes I agree that InstantSend does not look like a feature that can be easily achieved with geostationary satellite streaming. Especially considering the long ping (<2 seconds) introduced by the distance at which the satellites are.

    We have considered SPV node communication to become an interesting feature that we will add to the broadcasting when we go bidirectional.

    Satellites bandwidth is not necessary low if we choose the right frequency and the right satellite. I personally do use bidirectional satellite Internet and I'm quite aware of its performance and limitation. But as someone from Outernet quoted, its is not necessarily straightforward for someone born with a limousine to consider the opportunities that a bicycle can offer to someone who has been on foot all his life.
    I do not have disclosed price yet as we still need some time to present it but as I said on my first post I'm quite confident that you'll be nicely surprised. If we can agree that the bandwidths mentioned above are not enough, doubling them is still very affordable. Actually the most expensive part of such project is the effort in integration, development and testing. But when this parts will be done this would become a really interesting framework for the DASH eco systems that can be reused by other means of transmission (other wireless technologies or a land fibre).

    As I said above all your points are not just valid concerns but important technical challenges that we need to first consider and then solve. We'll definitely need some help from the developers to do so. I'm actually also trying to help with DASH development myself. So you're more than welcome to continue the discussion here or to contact me if you have time so that we can go over the application requirements and design.
     
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  11. codablock

    codablock Official Dash Dev
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    With Dashs avg. block time of 2.5 minutes, we are at 576 blocks per day. With 200mb per day, we'd limit our self to an avg. block size of 0.35mb. Even if we double the bandwidth, we still won't be able to transmit full blocks already. This will immediately be a problem when adoption starts to rise. Yes, currently this won't be a problem, but we definitely want to scale to blocks > 1mb, multiple dozens of mb, even up to max 200mb blocks. We'd easily end up requiring DSL level bandwidth for the satellite stream.

    With current block size limits we may have the chain increase by >500mb per day. That'd be >180gb per year. We'll never be able to rebroadcast the full blockchain this way.

    If you go bidirectional, then what's the point of a Dash specific broadcasting network? People would have to pay for the uplink in that case. So a normal paid satellite internet connection would do well enough in combination with SPV.

    Please don't forget: Blockstream does not want to scale on-chain at any price. They will stick with 1mb as long as possible. Even if Segwit2X succeeds, it's still just 2mb (actually max 4mb, depending on how you calculate it). So whatever works for them, will never work for Dash.
     
    #11 codablock, Oct 14, 2017
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  12. demo

    demo Well-known Member

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    I strongly support this satellite idea.
    I have already consulted the Dash community towards it, one month ago.

     
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  13. demo

    demo Well-known Member

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    Half knowledge is worse than ignorance. You are simply uniformed. You are simply wrong.

    64kbits/s is the average upstream.
    The downstream is a lot lot more.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_Internet_access
    Satellite Internet Characteristics
    Maximum downlink rate 1000 Gbit/s
    Maximum uplink rate 1000 Mbit/s
    Average downlink rate 1 Mbit/s
    Average uplink rate 256 Kbit/s

    P.S. Thanks for the dumb rate, @stan.distortion. It reveals to the knowledgeable, how dumb you are. It makes them understand the reason why I have so many negative ratings, from stupid like you. If you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas..
     
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  14. codablock

    codablock Official Dash Dev
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    We are not talking about consumer level internet broadband connections here. We are talking about global broadcasting with bandwidth leased from satellite networks. The limits and pricing here is not comparable with the type of satellite internet you are talking about. That's why I asked @Gilemon about the available options. That's why I compared it to existing solutions.

    If you're suggesting a consumer level internet broadband connection with a satellite (is this even available for consumers?) or modem uplink, then what's the point of broadcasting the blockchain? Just use SPV.
     
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  15. demo

    demo Well-known Member

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    For what reason to broadcast the blockchain? China, of course!

    Go try your SPV in china, if you dare!

     
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  16. demo

    demo Well-known Member

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    Please try to understand that satellite internet is UDP (not TCP).
    Please, if you dont really understand something, dont talk about it.
     
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  17. codablock

    codablock Official Dash Dev
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    I'm speechless by the level of trolling and hijacking you're currently doing. I really don't know what to say. Also, there is so much wrong with your reasoning that I don't even know where to start...and I know it won't help to even start.

    And again...wtf? Now explain to me please how your http connection magically turn into UDP based connections when you use satellite internet. Actually, please don't explain it. Really, stop hijacking this thread please. You seem to believe that you understand what you're talking about, but you clearly don't. You're mixing up stuff, using info you somehow gathered in completely wrong context. You're not helping this discussion.
     
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  18. demo

    demo Well-known Member

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    What are you talking, you ignorant? Do we necessarily need to download the blockchain using only http (unicast)? We have better broadcast it, multicast it, anycast it and geocast it, in case the transmission medium allows it !
     
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  19. Gilemon

    Gilemon New Member

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    To my understanding when adoption starts to rise, the budget will also increase and we can scale the bandwidth accordingly. When this happens, DASH will already have the infrastructure in place. This will be an optimum return on investment as the price of bandwidth decrease with time (LEO projects deployment for 2020) and volume.

    I'm confident bidirectional communication can be achieved for no cost to the end user. The hard part here is to get regulatory approval from the regulatory authority in the country where the ground stations are.

    About SPV, I don't think it is necessary to oppose the two. I love light clients, but they have their weakness as well (privacy, security).
    For people who don't know what we are talking about here, I invite you to watch this video:

    or read the slides here https://breaking-bitcoin.com/slides/SPVSecurity.pdf

    I apologize if I have triggered some kind of confrontation even I think it is healthy and necessary.
    We need to approach this step by step and avoid putting all the problems and larger arguments at the same time.
    The main argument at this stage is the cost of leasing the required bandwidth. As I said before, we do already have these figure, but we still need some time to assess draft feasibility on our side (nThinking) with integration, teleport services and modem procurement. It's realistic to assume that I will be able to share this information here before the end of next week.

    To avoid unnecessary heat over the cost discussion, I can tell you already that the cost for covering one satellite footprint (like Asia) for the current requirement of the blockchain are not so far from a professional level internet satellite broadband connection (where I live in Europe for 20mb/s downlink, 10mb/s uplink).
     
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  20. codablock

    codablock Official Dash Dev
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    Do I understand you correctly that this would require base stations where users would have to connect to so they can send transactions?

    Unfortunately the forum removes the t= parameter from youtube links. Can you tell me at which time it's about SPV security?

    Really looking forward to the numbers.
     
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  21. demo

    demo Well-known Member

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    You have to understand the huge potential this technology has.

    If someone with an old satellite disk and an old computer can watch the blockchain without being in danger to get caught, this means that he is aware that he is getting paid for his services. Which also means that you can have Dash slaves all over the world , who work for Dash instead of working for their own local government.

    "And he causeth all--small and great, rich and poor, free and slave--to be given a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, the beast's name or the number of his name. "
    [​IMG]
     
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  22. Gilemon

    Gilemon New Member

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    Yes, end users who wants to send transactions would connect to the ground stations via their uplink with satellite. For this they would need a block upconverter (BUC).

    SPV security is at 4:46
     
  23. demo

    demo Well-known Member

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    Thats not safe, to connect directly to the ground stations. For sending transactions (for the uplink) they have better follow @camosoul 's advice.

     
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  24. codablock

    codablock Official Dash Dev
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    Just watched it. He is basically right about most of what he talks about. He however misses to mention that most of the attacks he is talking about can also be done on full nodes. All the peer discovery related stuff (DNS, MITM, spoofing, ...) all apply to full nodes as well, so this is not SPV related/specific. The only thing that is SPV specific is the privacy part, because the nodes you are connected to can collect some knowledge about you. But he also points out the simple solution to that: broaden your bloom filters, or as the Electrum developers point out: don't use bloom filters. Then he also talks about MITM through HTTP apis...yeah well, the same thing that applies for the rest of the web applies here as well: use https. ;) People keep bashing on SPV and try to prove why it's unsafe, but at the same time don't describe how the found security problems are better with full nodes (at least I haven't seen a description yet that I agree with).

    At the same time, we actually can't really compare the security of SPV with satellite broadcasting. A broadcasting solution would equal to a full node connection to just ONE another node. That's a completely different scenario with it's own security implications. This can be ignored if one says "then see it as just ANOTHER source of the chain"*, but then we are back to requiring a normal internet connection in parallel. You can of course optimize it by only using the normal internet connection to sync headers, which is enough to validate that the broadcasting provider is honest (and not sending you a fork with double spends). But then again, why not just use SPV then?

    * This is what Gregory Maxwell (Bitcoin Core dev) told me when I pointed out the same problems in r/bitcoin.
     
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  25. UdjinM6

    UdjinM6 Official Dash Dev
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    The geek in me says that it's cool but at the same time I'm pretty skeptical because Pros are rather controversial imo:
    1. How is that helpful specifically for the creation of digital cash that "even you grandma can use"?
    2. I guess this use case is for 0.000001% of population at best - how many people have skills and all the required hardware to even use this stuff?
    3. One (more) company broadcasting blocks vs 1000s of individual (incentivized) nodes - does the former actually help in any way?
    4. Most outdoor events/festivals take place somewhere with (mobile) internet coverage, so should probably just use SPV there. Mining in places without broadband connection also makes no sense to me - how are you going to broadcast you blocks back to the network?
    5. Not sure how these ideas are connected tbh
    6. If all internet connections (even mobile networks) are down where you are then what is the use case? Who are you going to transact with (and how) if no one can use internet?
    7. It's a myth that some company broadcasting smth via satellites can't be censored (or even shutdown) by the government. Again, compare that to 1000s of individual (incentivized) nodes.
    8. Maybe or maybe not, I have no crystal ball :)

    The whole idea to "be able to use internet money in places where internet is not available" is kind of suboptimal. This use case is simply way too tiny, filled with different kind of difficulties and brings no real impact. IMO we should focus on low hanging fruits. If I'd had to chose who to target first - 100 geeks with antennas in some god forgotten places with no or very limited internet access (satellites) VS millions of casual users with mobile (smart/feature)phones or laptops with at least 2g internet access (SPV) - I'd pick the later without any doubt.

    I'm pretty sure that literally no one is going to _actually_ use that kind of solution (including the one from Blockstream) after the initial "wow" effect is gone. The only somewhat real effect of starting/supporting a project like this in current state of the blockchain space is basically a (short-term) PR imo - "First blockchain broadcast via satellites funded by the blockchain itself!!11" and so on.
     
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  26. Gilemon

    Gilemon New Member

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    Because SPV is an elegant solution to mitigate infrastructure constraints (network and storage) at the application layer.

    We are discussing for the budget system to enable laying the foundation for mitigating these constraints at the physical layer. This alternative source can be used for the multiple reasons people already use satellite communication: financial, security, redundancy, reliability, availability and even scalability.

    Naturally, the unidirectional testing phase has tradeoffs but the SPV approach can be used when we have bidirectional transmission. In the long run, the two approaches do not contradict each other, instead they can mutually benefit.
     
  27. Gilemon

    Gilemon New Member

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    Consider a Western Union kind of scenario. The granddaughter is called Carol and she works hard in a developed country to support her grandparents. Her grandma is called Alice and she lives in a small village in Papua New Guinea with no internet access. So, Alice needs to go the closest city to receive the money from Carol. But now in this village, there is a Bob with a satellite dish and willing to accept DASH.

    If we conservatively consider there are 4.5 billions people without internet access and that your percentage is no just made up (even if for some reason I’d tend to agree with it ;) ). That’s still 4,500 people all other the world. Imagine how many new nodes, ATM, distributors for transferring wealth this is translating to.

    More generally about this alternative physical layer, in developing countries broadcasting only can be used as the main source of synchronization and save a lot of costly data plans. Especially in regards to the figure from @codablock above when using > 200mb blocks.

    In developed countries, this alternative link can also be used as mean to mitigate over constrains:
    1. a redundant source of information in case of country specific ISP regulation
    2. increasing the anonymity of the application layer
    3. data storage backup
    4. geographic specific applications due to access to cooling, space, energy
    These would be addressed by the third phase of this project which is planning to allow bidirectional transmission (Multipoint-to-Point network).

    Yes, you're correct that the ground station can be shutdown by the government where it is located; or by a powerful allied one. But for the production phase (2 - full coverage), we are planning to use different telecommunication companies (middle eastern, Indian, Asian, European, north American). There is a lot of economic competition in-between them so it is doable to use multiple signals.

    This is a very similar concern to the one brought forward by @codablock. And as you're a developer as well, I'd have to reassure you that the funding, time and attention for such project will in any case interfere with your current priorities for Evolution. We intend to be both very open and autonomous in the development of this project. So, it's not like you have to choose in-between the twos. I'm confident this can be successfully delivered in parallel of Evolution without adding constraints; especially financially. If you have missed it above, the price of satellite leasing is not as expensive as one would expect.

    If nobody knows about it, yes, this is very likely. But we are planning to deliver full open-source code, installation/mounting procedures and bring at least 2 news agencies on board to spread the word (Bloomberg and Al Jazeera).

    For further consideration, in many scenarios the satellite dishes are already installed and pointed to the right satellite. The missing ingredient will be a US$20 SDR (http://www.nooelec.com/store/sdr/sdr-receivers/nesdr-mini2-rtl2832u-r820t2.html) and some additional cabling.
    Going bidirectional will require slightly more expensive hardware (BUC + larger antenna), but this will still be much cheaper than satellite Internet requirements (monthly subscription + data cap).

    That's why I'm proposing to approach this step by step with a cheap testing phase to first assess all the valid concerns.
    If after the first 6 months we all agree this is going nowhere nothing force the governance to finance this further (2 - full coverage, 3 - bidirectional)

    Thank you for this quote. Or what about "First blockchain telecommunication infrastructure funded by the blockchain itself!"? Less catchy but better for long term?

    This also makes me think that it is very important to make sure the overall crypto community understands that even if this project is integrated by a contractor, the infrastructure will belong to the DASH governance. As opposed to the similar project with BTC, where there is a virulent debate about which outside investment is trying to take ownership of the blockchain.
     
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  28. demo

    demo Well-known Member

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    Dash Address:
    XnpT2YQaYpyh7F9twM6EtDMn1TCDCEEgNX
    Suppose that I mine in a country where mining is not allowed. I could mine , put the results in a usb stick, give it to a friend who travels abroad so that he can broadcast the block results in a place where mining is allowed.

    Doesnt this make sense to you?

    Suppose also that I work for dash in a place where dash is not allowed. I would like to see my salary "fall from the sky", I would like to safely watch my personal wallet keep receiving dash (although I am unable to spend them in that place) . This information incentivizes me to continue working for dash. Having earned enough dash, I could pay a smuggler to safely tranfer me in a place where dash is allowed.

    Doesnt this make sense to you?

     
    #28 demo, Oct 16, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2017
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  29. alex9

    alex9 Member

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    Omg demo, please stop! :D It does not make any sense. It's simply impossible.
     
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  30. Cryptophasia

    Cryptophasia New Member

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    This is really cool!!!!
     

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