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Mesh Networkers GoTenna to Leverage Bitcoin for Decentralized Comms

The minds behind the off-grid mesh networking startup goTenna have spun off a new subsidiary, Global Mesh Labs, to pursue an open-source plan of incentivizing decentralized comms via bitcoin micropayments on the Lightning Network.

That plan, actualized in the form of the Lot49 protocol that goTenna engineer Richard Myers and company co-founder Daniela Perdomo spearheaded, aims to make reliable, peer-to-peer, and low bandwidth comms made through mobile ad-hoc networks (MANETs) a viable alternative to centralized ISPs and mobile carriers.

Global Mesh Labs

Specifically, Lot49 is designed to use MANETs and payment channels, a la the Lightning Network, to incentivize an international global messaging network, i.e. Lot49 relay nodes receive payments for successful transmissions.

The system is all about creating a “new bottom-up communication layer for the internet” said Perdomo, the chief executive officer at goTenna and a mesh networking technologist, who added that the protocol’s comms would be anti-fragile just like bitcoin transactions were:

“Mesh networks also offer the Bitcoin community an alternative transport layer that can reach communities traditional networks cannot and with improved resistance to surveillance, censorship and natural disasters.”

The cryptoverse has seen recent advancements in bitcoin transactions being made via satellite and radio technology. If carried out to fruition and expanded to a large scale, Lot49 bodes the possibility of the Bitcoin network being further cemented as censorship-resistant public infrastructure, whether that be for payments, comms, or decentralized ID.

In a Tuesday press release, the goTenna team said it would look into collaborating “with other hardware vendors interested in supporting the Lot49 protocol with their own devices,” which will undoubtedly be necessary if the protocol is to reach a global scope in the years ahead.

goTenna and Blockstream Team Up on “Alternative Transaction Channel”

Last month, Bitcoin technology firm Blockstream announced it had added support for goTenna’s tech into its Blockstream Satellite service.

The meld allowed goTenna users to leverage their goTenna hardware receivers to transmit Blockstream Satellite data. As Blockstream’s Daniel Williams explained at the time:

“The Satellite API allows users to pay with bitcoin to broadcast messages or data globally via the Blockstream Satellite network. With the new goTenna integration, users without Blockstream Satellite hardware can still receive and relay the Satellite API data using their goTenna devices. Using mesh networking, more people can stay in touch, receive information, and pay each other in bitcoin.”

The link up was billed as a way to make private bitcoin transactions through an alternative transaction channel — yet another small step toward making the Bitcoin network less uniformly reliant on the internet for utility.

A Natural Fit for Bitcoin?

The Lot49 whitepaper release marks a further shift toward Bitcoin for the creators behind goTenna, who were notably experimenting with bitcoin testnet transactions made through goTenna Mesh devices (currently priced at $179 USD for one pair) last fall.

Such experimentation was made possible by the TxTenna app, which was developed by both goTenna and Samourai Wallet, with a mind toward off-grid bitcoin transactions. TxTenna was revealed last May.

The app works as such: a Samourai Wallet user signs an offline bitcoin transaction and then delivers that signed transaction to TxTenna. The app then relays the transaction details to nearby goTenna devices until one of these devices with an internet connection can transmit the transaction to the Bitcoin network.

The first official demonstration of this alternative transaction flow came last September, when a Samourai Wallet employee sent the first successful bitcoin testnet transaction through TxTenna.

That milestone was likely an early sign of things to come. As the prospects for mesh networking grow, the Bitcoin network is poised to become that much harder to stop.

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