How does the blockchain plan to enhance legacy wireless networks?
What is a Legacy Wireless Network?
Essentially, any network that does not use IP (TCP/IP) protocol is a legacy network. Some examples of legacy wireless networks include Systems Network Architecture (SNA), which IBM used, Appletalk by Apple, and IPX/SPX used by Xerox and Novell.
In terms of legacy wireless networks, most wireless local area networks (WLANs) utilize the original IEEE 802.11 standards, but have since transitioned to the IEEE 802.11i standards, which maintain improved security and integrity compared to the IEEE 802.11 standards. However, as the tech world continues to see novel concepts emerge, especially related to blockchain use, wireless networks are already undergoing more major changes.
How is the Blockchain Enhancing Legacy Wireless Networks?
Blockchains are mostly associated with crypto, but they are also on the verge of innovation at the forefront of blockchain-associated wireless networks. This is partly due to the security threats posed to wireless communication systems; blockchains are realizing their potential to create secure networks to fill this void. Some topics of interest include different network architectures for blockchain systems, privacy-aware secured protocol, and smart contracts in wireless networks.
Helium is one example of a company that is revolutionizing wireless networks with blockchains. Helium is a rapidly growing crowdsourced IoT network. It is an LPWAN LoRaWAN network, which works by allowing an individual to set up a Hotspot as part of its network by using simple Helium Hotspots instead of GPUs. When using the network, users earn HNT cryptocurrency. Helium has collaborated with Mapbox and uses the blockchain to maintain a Hotspot map that tracks the locations and density of Hotspot use on its network.
Another company, Pronto AI, has launched a similar network in the San Francisco Bay area called Pollen Mobile. Pronto is an autonomous vehicle startup and launched the network to provide a wireless network for its vehicles. Because Pronto was unable to find this on their own, they fulfilled it by creating what they needed. According to Pollen, they will gain users by providing cryptocurrency “to run their own mini cell towers and build out the network’s coverage in the Bay Area.”
These two examples are immensely beneficial in that they offer low cost self-managed, peer-to-peer networks, high security within public blockchain networks.
It seems this type of cryto-generating mobile network will be an increasingly popular trend in the coming months.
Examples of Applications
What is incentivizing companies to use these new blockchain-based networks? Take a peek at the examples below to gain some insight.
- Lime, an etransportation company, is using Helium to track vehicle locations.
- Airly will use Helium to gather air pollution data.
- These networks are well-suited for cryptocurrency payments because they are more efficient than third-party payment providers.
Transmission Control Protocol (TCP): method of communication that lets programs and devices communicate messages over a network. Integrity of the data transmission is guaranteed and data is broken into small packets and transmitted.
Internet Protocol (IP): “addresses are used to identify hardware devices on a network. The addresses allow these devices to connect to one another and transfer data on a local network or over the internet.” The IP method enables TCP to be carried out.
Graphics processing unit (GPU): computing technology that is flexible and programmable and has improved 3D graphics rendering.
Low-power wide-area (LPWAN): “Low-power WAN (LPWAN) is a wireless wide area network technology that interconnects low-bandwidth, battery-powered devices with low bit rates over long ranges.”
LoRaWAN: a type of LPWAN that “wirelessly connects devices to the internet and manages communication between end-node devices and network gateways.”