Yesterday software company Blockstream announced that it had expanded its satellite broadcasting of the bitcoin blockchain to include the Asia-Pacific region. The company, run by original cypherpunk Adam Back, previously had four satellites orbiting the Earth and broadcasting the full bitcoin blockchain across North America, South America, Africa, and Europe. (Residents of Antarctica and Greenland are still out of luck, though. Sorry.)
Everyone else—at least those with a small satellite receiver and “an inexpensive USB receiver”—can receive bitcoin blocks for free without internet access. Blockstream says that the satellites lower bitcoin’s dependency on the internet and decrease the likelihood of a node becoming isolated. Broadcasting the bitcoin blockchain via satellite makes the network potentially less corruptible by outside forces, like ISPs that might not adhere to A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto. The move aligns with what many believe to be the original vision of bitcoin: that of an uncensorable, pemissionless exchange of value.
The announcement also included details about a new broadcast service called Blockstream Satellite API, launching in January 2019. It will allow users to broadcast messages and pay for them via Lightning Network micropayments. These messages can be either unencrypted (and accessible to anyone with a receiver) or encrypted, targeted messages.
“Natural disaster notifications, secure personal messaging, and sending bitcoin market data to remote locations are just some of the exciting examples of the power of this service,” said Chris Cook, head of the project, in a statement.
In the meantime, the strangely soothing animation by Pixelmatic of the satellite is worth a watch: