Starting in January 2019, people will be able - for free - to send and receive bitcoin from almost anywhere on earth, using the Blockstream Satellite network and its new application programming interface (API).
Blockstream is a blockchain technology company founded by some of the oldest hands in the crypto industry. The company has also launched the fifth of their satellites to support the network which extends coverage to the Asia-Pacific region, inaugurating their so-called “Phase 2” coverage.
While the satellite communication is unencrypted, Bitcoin transactions made using Blockstream Satellite can be anonymized utilizing the Lightning Network’s TOR routing. All together, the interface will allow users to privately and remotely send Bitcoin transactions from almost anywhere on the planet, only excluding the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
(The Lightning Network is a second level settlement network built atop the Bitcoin - and not only Bitcoin - network.)
Blockstream CEO Adam Back said in a 2017 Bloomberg interview that the cost of the equipment need to connect to the satellite network was between $100 and $20 - it is even possible to reuse satellite television equipment, he said.
The Blockstream Satellite API will go live in January 2019. And Bitcoin transactions are not the only use case envisioned by Blockstream developers for the API. The free access to a satellite network, they expect, will invite a host of other uses; for example “Natural disaster notifications, secure personal messaging, and sending bitcoin market data to remote locations.”
Blockstream Liquid - Changing the Face of Bitcoin
Besides the Satellite network, Blockstream’s other big release this year was its Liquid Sidechain for the Bitcoin network.
Liquid duplicates “frozen” bitcoin on its own platform, creating an internal, tokenized form of bitcoin in order to offer a number of trading benefits. Trading on Liquid is billed as faster, more reliable, and more private.
The sidechain is built with other exchanges in mind, “enabling the rapid, secure and confidential transfers of large amounts of bitcoin between [participating exchanges].”