Every blockchain platform claims to be decentralized. But are they really? What does it mean to be truly decentralized?
If your cryptocurrency can be rendered unusable by governments, invading forces, or natural disasters, then is it really a decentralized currency?
The problem with all blockchain platforms is that they rely on the Internet. Without the Internet, Bitcoin simply doesn’t work. Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, and every other cryptocurrency is completely dependent on Internet access.
Except one. Skycoin.
That’s because Skycoin is building a new Internet. A fully decentralized global peer-to-peer meshnet in which nodes connect to each over directly over dark fiber, or wirelessly, thus bypassing traditional Internet Service Providers.
Why is this important?
Because ISPs are centralized. They can choose to block all cryptocurrency traffic. They can choose to block all encrypted traffic. They can choose to block all traffic entirely. They can choose to block traffic for specific individuals. They can be shut down by governments, or by invading forces. They can be disrupted by natural disasters. Any of these events will render most cryptocurrencies unusable and worthless in the affected region or country.
You might be lucky enough to live in a part of the world where these events are unlikely. At least for now. But in many regions these are very real threats. And who’s to say that even in the most liberal democracies, governments won’t crack down on the use of digital currencies if those currencies begin to threaten the government’s taxation revenue, and their financial control of the population.
A government in fear of losing power may take unprecedented steps to retain that power. Even in a supposedly progressive society like Australia, the government recently introduced draconian anti-encryption laws that could certainly be used to restrict cryptocurrency traffic.
Imagine a cashless world in which digital currencies have become the dominant payment method. Now consider that all those transaction could be brought to a standstill simply by cutting off the power or shutting down the Internet. In war-torn parts of the world, the first thing an invading force will do is destroy the local communications infrastructure.
Those decentralized cryptocurrencies don’t seem so decentralized now, right?
The only way for a blockchain platform to become truly decentralized is to break this reliance on centralized ISPs and government-controlled infrastructure. Skycoin’s Skywire meshnet decentralizes the transport layer using dedicated peer-to-peer hardware nodes called Skyminers, which communicate with one another wirelessly using custom antennas, along with other forms of direct connection.
Skyminers and antennas are modular in design, capable of being built by anyone using low-cost, readily available components. This means even the poorest and most remote villages on earth can build the infrastructure needed to become part of the world’s first global decentralized meshnet.
Each Skywire node operator can select and design the optimum combination of Skyminer hardware and antenna to suit their individual circumstances — long range or short range, narrow spread or wide spread, high bandwidth or low bandwidth. Nodes could also be configured as Wi-Fi hotspots, providing network access to everyone in range.
Every other blockchain platform can leverage this Skywire infrastructure to truly decentralize their own ecosystems. By installing Skyminer nodes and routing traffic over Skywire, even Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP users can transact in their preferred digital currency during situations in which the traditional Internet is unavailable.
Skywire delivers the final piece of the puzzle necessary to make all cryptocurrencies fully decentralized.
Skywire will of course also interconnect with the legacy Internet. It’s not going to replace the Internet — it will simply run in parallel. Skywire is carrier agnostic, and each Skyminer will be able to support multiple transport links, including dark fiber, wireless, radio, satellite, along with traditional ISP links for connection to the regular Internet.
A region might consist of thousands of Skyminer nodes dispersed across a city or rural area, each connecting to the others wirelessly. It only requires one of those nodes to maintain its long-range backhaul uplink to the rest of the world (via satellite, dark fiber or long-range radio), in order for every node in that region to stay connected.
Once Skywire achieves mass adoption, it will be impossible for any government or invading army or natural disaster to disrupt enough nodes to prevent the meshnet from continuing to communicate with the rest of the world.
Even loss of power won’t interrupt Skywire. Nodes use as little power as a mobile phone, and can run indefinitely on small solar panels. Solar Bankers, a Skycoin partner that launched its ICO on the Skycoin Fiber platform, has already developed a range of panels that can easily power multiple Skywire nodes.
And the benefits of Skywire extend well beyond blockchain. Skywire nodes can quickly deliver reliable Internet access to regions of the world with little or no communications infrastructure, regions affected by frequent blackouts, or regions that have been devastated by wars, floods, or earthquakes.
Meshnets aren’t new. Community meshnets have sprung up all over the world in places where traditional ISP connectivity is unreliable or unavailable. But these existing meshnets operate in isolation from one other, and they’re typically run by volunteers who are not financially rewarded for their efforts.
Skywire is the world’s first global meshnet, and node operators are incentivized with automatic cryptocurrency payments for providing bandwidth, storage and computing power to other users of the network. At the time of writing, the Skywire community has already deployed almost 10,000 of these nodes around the world.
Net neutrality is not about choosing which centralized ISP we’d prefer to pay to carry our web traffic. It’s not about kneeling before monopolistic corporations and oppressive governments, begging for the right to route our data over their infrastructure.
No. True net neutrality is about breaking the chains that bind us to those centralized entities. It’s about giving power and control of the Internet back to the people. It’s about having complete freedom to communicate globally, without oversight, control and censorship from ISPs and governments.
Skywire delivers this freedom.
The cryptocurrency sector can often feel like a battleground. Antagonism between competing projects is rife, and Skycoin attracts a disproportionate amount of FUD and hostility from other projects. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Regardless of which platform we support, we can all agree that we’re in this market because we believe in decentralization and freedom from government control.
Skywire’s success is therefore in the best interest of every blockchain project. Any development team that hopes for their cryptocurrency to be truly decentralized, and no longer reliant on legacy Internet infrastructure, should consider the strategic deployment of Skywire nodes among their communities.
Anyone who wishes to become part of the global Skywire meshnet can purchase an official 8-node Skyminer directly from Skycoin.net, or you can build your own single-node DIY Skyminer for as little as $40. This is a small price to pay to ensure that no government, military force or natural disaster will ever prevent you from transacting with your preferred cryptocurrency.
With Skywire, true decentralization is finally within reach, for all of us.
Finally, if you need assistance to set up your Skyminer, tech support is provided in the Skywire telegram group, in which Skycoin developers and engineers help users to build and configure their Skyminers and other Skycoin hardware. Another telegram group, Skywire Meta, focuses on the ‘big picture’ of Skywire deployment, such as antenna designs, community meshnet projects, networking and global communications infrastructure.