Internet, no doubt, ushered in an era of dissemination of information at a faster pace and that too by allowing unrestricted participation for all. The internet is quite liberating and opens countless possibilities for users. After nearly three decades of the internet revolution, the question is how to enable access to all. This is a point which even governments are trying to address. Why Governments? We will talk about that shortly.
According to “Internet World Stats”, out of the estimated global population of 7.6 billion approximately 54% of the population has access to the internet as of December 2017. That is to say that the remaining 46% either don’t have access at all or used shared computers for internet access (like Cybercafes); 46% is approximately 3.5 billion people! Also, these users are not evenly spread for an ISP to just go and invest and make internet accessible for them. So, how does the internet spread look like?
The Internet coverage across the globe is uneven with certain regions having a strong access simply because of good infrastructure in comparison with other regions. Take a look at a global pictorial schema of the coverage.
What we are looking at is the fact that most European countries and North America have a strong access to the Internet as compared to other nations; Africa and the Middle East being one of the worst. At a global level, this seems to be a simpler problem to solve because all that needs to be done is to incentivize ISPs to make infrastructure investment in such countries. Easy, isn’t it?
Not really. If the ISPs have to find interest and therefore, the incentive, the push needs to come from the governments. But consider this, in most of the countries in Africa where the GDP and the per capita income is one of the lowest in the world, the government will try to ensure that the people get their basic necessities first and therefore, internet access takes a back seat. In such a scenario ISPs will stick to where they can make money and not expand. Is that a good thing? Not really.
That’s because the internet is also a job creator. This fact is, obviously, overlooked by many governments. Otherwise, instead of alleviating poverty, the best thing to do is to enable people to earn for themselves; alleviation will automatically follow. After all, how can we argue with the proverb:
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime
Internet today provides a job for content creators, art creators, goods sellers (through Amazon, eBay, etc.) and many other varieties of jobs. Isn’t the internet, therefore, a good thing to be enabled?
The answer is yes but again the point of prioritization comes in. With less focus of governments on Internet, there will be an even lesser focus of the ISPs (because those regions may not be profitable on their own). And that’s where the incentives waver and further, that’s where accessibility suffers!
To Summarize and Add few more Points
- Government focus decides incentives for ISPs to make infrastructure investments in lesser profitable zones for ISPs
- There is no inherent push for ISPs to invest in infrastructure development beyond their current envelope
- Competition between the ISPs causes them to continue to focus on their current market
- Competition also drives down the prices and therefore, it becomes a game of market share. Which also means that the Average Revenue Per User (ARU) decreases drastically and the profit share is wafer thin
- Interoperability of ISPs are also limited, so if a person travels from one country to another, he or she has to switch the ISP to be able to access the internet and not to mention, the huge costs in many cases
- If access to a larger untapped market is provided in a non-infrastructure heavy mode, ISPs will still have interest, after all, it is more income
- Also, if a solution to increase ARU of existing customer base is provided, ISPs will be more than interested
In a nutshell, if a cheaper, easily available, and infrastructure – lite solution to accessibility is made available to the ISPs, they would love to use it. In addition, if such solutions are available to users directly, then that would be an icing on the cake.
So, do we have such a solution? Turns out we do have one!
BandZ – The New Blockchain Internet Solution Provider
We are talking about a blockchain solution provided by BandZ. The interesting turn of events is summed up well in their own words:
The Internet enabled the blockchain, now blockchain will enable the internet
A bit about the organization here:
BandZ is a global p2p extranet project with the aim of making internet connections, censorship-resistant, secure, cheaper, as well as accessible over larger distances and in low infrastructure areas. Blockchain software is being built to provide the services that will be available to BandZ users on its extranet (VPN, rotating proxy, secured communications, mesh networks, and more).
In simpler words BandZ intends to solve not all the problems that we just enumerated in terms of accessibility but also allow users to act as internet sharing points which enables their fellow users. This transaction of internet sharing and usage can happen through BandZ tokens. One other point to note is that if accessibility improves through BandZ solution, ISPs will be happy to look at it even without a government push because now it is about increasing revenue and ARU.
How will BandZ change the Internet Access Dynamics?
Today the internet industry acts as points of service where ISPs are at the center and users can buy and access internet only through them. In other words, the infrastructure and IP address belong to the ISP and the user pays ISPs to access the net. This while has worked in taking the internet to 54% of the world population, it will not be enough to cover the remaining 46% simply because it will not be profitable for ISPs to enable access for this remaining disparate population spread. One other observable fact is that the internet access service itself is centralized around the ISPs.
BandZ intends to do the reverse. BandZ will be using the power of the blockchain to decentralize the internet and create a global extranet. What do I mean? I will explain but before that let’s take a moment to understand the intranet and extranet.
Most of us are working in a day job in a company, let’s call that company XYZ. Now during office hours, you will be emailing other departments as much as receiving emails from other departments and colleagues. Also, you will be accessing some Knowledge Management Portal for your training and reading company policies at some location. Such interactions are usually on the intranet – meaning, this world of communication is safeguarded from the outside world. A person outside the company XYZ cannot access this world. This is the Intranet.
Now, consider a situation that you are working with the procurement department of XYZ and you have to give access to your vendors to log in on the vendor portal and post his invoice or check the payment status of his past invoice. This vendor portal is again in the intranet of the XYZ, however, limited and controlled access is given to individuals outside the intranet world. Note that the vendors will not be able to access XYZ’s knowledge portal but only the vendor portal. This form of interaction of the company with the external world in a controlled manner forms the extranet.
So let’s get back to BandZ, what would be extranet in this case? Anyone who provides internet access, from one pool to other users in another pool, forms an extranet sort of connection. Now apply this at the global level to the internet and we are talking about the Internet as a Global Extranet!
One of BandZ’s unique solution is the Mesh Network.
What are Mesh Networks and what are their Advantages?
We don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to notice that our wi-fi router at home does not cover every corner of our home. Also, IoT is not completely implementable because the access of wi-fi enabled equipment together congests the router and hence overloads it.
BandZ solves this by creating nodes for internet devices to connect directly, non-hierarchically and dynamically and where the node is free it allows other devices to route data. In short, it remains independent and yet it collaborates. This, in turn, decongests the system because there is no dependence on one particular node for access and the nodes can self-configure allowing dynamic distribution of workloads. This concept, in short, is the Mesh Networks.
The advantages, obviously, are decongestion of the node, dynamic re-allocation of workload, fault tolerance, and reduced maintenance cost.
What would be the Benefits of the Decentralized Internet or Global Extranet?
Benefits of the decentralized Internet are many and they are for both the ISPs and Users alike. The field is open for ISPs to access more customers or users to act as local ISPs and share network. This extends the benefit even up to the last denominator in the chain.
The benefits to both ISPs and Users are explained below:
Internet Service Providers
1. Access to Remote Areas
We spoke about how it is not profitable for ISPs to provide infrastructure for remote areas but with BandZ’s Mesh Network concept, the ISPs can not only provide internet access to consumers in their country but also those outside their geographical boundaries
2. Research and Development
There is hardly any collaboration in R&D among the ISPs. The benefits of such a collaboration is already seen in the automobile industry, which is one of the oldest industries being 100 years old. Nissan-Renault or Tata-Fiat are examples where know-how of one player is shared with the other and hence the overall R&D cost comes down.
ISPs have yet not found a way to collaborate without risking their current market share but here’s where BandZ comes to the rescue. BandZ Software Development Kit allows the ISPs to work with each other’s network by exchanging BandZ token and in the process, try out new models without risking current business. As a result, more openness follows!
3. Average Revenue Per User (ARU)
We already saw that the ARU for ISPs are flat or falling and thus has become a market share game. However,with BandZ, they have access to new products like Mesh Networks, VPNs and Rotating Proxies which can be tried to improve the ARU.
4. Network Congestion Collapse
This is something that users may have experienced at different points where we feel that the network is slow or something is taking extra time to download. Such congestion issues are solved by BandZ’s mesh network solution.
5. P2P traffic
The idea here is to allow users to share not only their demand with the ISP but also their digital resources for pooling and contributing in reaching places where the ISP does not have infrastructure. This is enabled by Mesh Network and Bandwidth sharing concept.
BandZ’s whitepaper states that cyberattacks alone would cost users globally about USD 2 trillion by 2019. BandZ solution on VPN and Proxies make enterprise-level solutions available to individual users at cheaper cost and help in improving security.
1. Roaming Charges
If we are travelling across countries, it is obvious that we have to either switch-off the data plans or find ways of procuring a local SIM (of the visiting country), both of which are cumbersome situations.
BandZ’s mesh network concept coupled with the fact that bandwidth sharing through local ISP users is possible, the cost of such access becomes cheaper and at the same time the consumption increases. This is a win-win for both the user and the ISP.
2. Data Plans
Because there will be pool of users, there will be inherent competition for bandwidth sharing. This reduces cost overall and makes it viable for a user seeking access. Not to mention the user sharing the digital asset makes financial rewards too.
3. Empty Wi-Fi Zones
This is the one area we covered earlier where we spoke about the ISPs not having infrastructure or limited infrastructure in certain places. The mesh network concept allows the users of such ISP to extend the reach to untapped users too, thus converting the empty zone into internet coverage zone.
4. Costly services
When have we heard of enterprise level services like VPN and Proxies being used by individuals? It is simply too costly. However, BandZ’s basic tenet will have these solutions as services for the end customer. How cool is that!
Who can Benefit from being able to Exchange Bandwidth?
The answer is all parties – the user seeking access, the user providing access and the ISP in the loop.
The benefits of decentralized internet are multi-pronged and value wise immense. If such a proposition is accomplished it will unlock not only the potential of the internet but also the blockchain. This will not be limited to just internet users but also the ones who have had no access hitherto; of course it benefits the ISP too.
Let’s see a use case. We are talking about artists who are unable to find online medium for sales. Through BandZ, such artists can find a new medium in the form of internet to express themselves. This allows both, the buyer to have found an art that is not common and the seller to have found a buyer who appreciates his art. This not only fulfils the person’s tangible need for money but intangible need for appreciation as well!
What’s more, the ISP is able to extend his reach through BandZ pool of users while seeing the usage of service going up.
How can this impact locations with a lack of infrastructure?
We spoke about this briefly in the earlier section, let’s elaborate a bit. Now in cases where ISPs have not expanded or don’t have physical infrastructure in some non-profitable location, the idea is to use the digital assets of the user of the ISP.
Such a user becomes mini-ISP and provides the service to any other user in the vicinity. This is enabled by the Mesh Network concept and the user is able to trade bandwidth for BrandZ token. In the process, non-covered users get access, ISP gets more coverage and the user who shares the network gets financial rewards. Everyone wins!
How can BandZ get rid of needless roaming charges?
Let’s take a live example which I faced when travelling from India to Singapore. The ISP for me in India was Vodafone, whereas when I was in Singapore using Vodafone was prohibitive; nearly 85 times my local charges. So, I had to get a SingTel SIM which was time consuming and then at the end spend more time getting it activated. But the point was that since the local plans were not known, I ended up buying plans which could not cover my internet and calling needs through the three days of stay. Besides, wi-fi was readily available only in the hotel room. Just imagine the money that I spent in the three days. It was nearly 5 times the cost if I had to use my Vodafone network in India.
BandZ intends to handle such a scenario. If SingTel users in Singapore have free bandwidth which they want to trade for a person like me travelling from a different country, I could have accessed the internet through such nodes (users) and traded using the BrandZ tokens. Since in the market place the user pools are trying to be competitive, the cost of access would have been cheaper for me. I could have accessed the internet anywhere and not waited to reach the hotel wi-fi, which means even SingTel would have been happy and I would have been happy. Not to mention the user from whom I gained access.
This is how BandZ can get rid of needless roaming charges.
An Additional Use Case
Savio is a writer and has many written books which he is able to sell only to local readers. He had heard about the internet and how through the internet he could sell to a larger audience but the problem is that he does not have a ready internet connection.
Savio’s friend visits him during one of his vacation from a nearby city and tells him about BandZ. He uses his phone as a mesh network allowing access to Savio. Savio joins this BandZ pool and is able to access the internet. Through the net, Savio lists his book on Amazon and sees the sales skyrocket. Savio is not only able to access the internet at a cheaper rate but also make money by selling his books. Once Savio’s friend returns, Savio can still access the net through other users who are willing to share bandwidth.
BandZ therefore makes the internet easy to access and reach any personal goals that we wish to achieve!
So, who are the great minds behind BandZ?
It is also recommended that readers understand more about BandZ through any of the following informative resources.
- BandZ Website
- BandZ WhitePaper
- BandZ Telegram
- BandZ Linkedin
- BandZ Facebook
- BandZ Twitter
- BandZ Reddit
- BandZ Github
- BandZ YouTube
This article is written in response to originalworks’ call on authors’ thoughts on BandZ. It can be read here.
Image Courtesy: BandZ Resources