How Blockchain Can Fund Next-Gen Mobile Networks: Yan Zhang of DNeT
Fifth-generation (5G) mobile network technology promises average download speeds of up to 1GB per second — but covering the world will require massive infrastructure spending. What if we could use blockchain-based smart contracts to create a network of ‘microstations’ to do the job? DNeT says it has the solution, with its smart contract and token-based network built on Bitcoin Cash’s Wormhole protocol.
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We Have the Technology… Now We Have to Build It
5G network protocols exist and were recently standardized, but the physical infrastructure won’t begin deploying till late 2019.
Speeds like that will come at a massive cost to those building the networks, i.e: telecommunications providers. As DNeT chairman Yan Zhang told Bitsonline, we’ll see the technology used in a number of new “internet of things” (IoT) applications, such as self-driving vehicles.
However, due to its shorter frequencies, 5G networks require far more base stations than the current 4G standard. 4G stations can cover a few square kilometers, Zhang said, but 5G stations typically cover only a few hundred meters. That requires “orders of magnitude” more base stations in China, the U.S., and several developing and emerging countries whose economies could benefit from 5G technology, like the Philippines.
Massive Infrastructure Demands and Costs
In the video introduction above, Zhang gave the example of self-driving vehicles, which need to stay connected to a high-speed wireless network. If there aren’t enough 5G base stations in the vicinity, they’ll switch to slower 4G networks with potentially dangerous latency issues.
Carrier China Mobile alone, said Zhang, would have to install 14.5 million 5G base stations. To compare, the country currently has about 3.5 million stations supporting its 4G network.
Rather than relying on large mobile carriers to do the job, is it possible to crowdfund network infrastructure in a way that builds networks, and even benefits users who contribute the hardware?
He referred to a speech by Bitmain CEO Jihan Wu at the BCH first anniversary event, in which Wu said oceangoing explorers of past centuries would often crowdfund their ventures. Those journeys could end in either massive rewards or total failure — but wouldn’t have left port without large numbers of small investors contributing.
DNeT’s Vision: Millions of 5G ‘Microstations’
Zhang and DNeT’s vision is worldwide networks of “microstations” — pocket WiFi devices, light poles, traffic signs, home routers — all connected by Wormhole smart contracts. A utility token on the network would incentivize participants with offers of bandwidth discounts and shared data plans, and potentially increase in value as the physical network grows (since the network itself would become more valuable as it gets larger).
The network could easily grow to over a million small nodes in a year, Zhang said. The daily-use devices would essentially be “mining machines” for DNeT’s native token on the delegated proof-of-stake network.
DNeT is an interesting, yet still experimental, use of smart contracts to build physical infrastructure — the value of which will feed back into the technology that created it. It will also be a test for Wormhole and the Bitcoin Cash blockchain it lives on; another example of the BCH community’s drive to create something more than just digital money.
Do you think DNeT will succeed? Can its investment model be used to fund other infrastructure development too? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Images and video via Bitsonline, Jon Southurst