How blockchain will disrupt the communication industry

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From the CMC editorial desk: One of the things we’ve always wanted to explore is what mass adoption of blockchain technology looks like. Here we have some examples of how it will change the face of the communication industry in multiple ways!

Having seen the cryptocurrency market’s nosedive and the fall of hundreds of ICOs, 2018 might have been seen as the worst year ever for crypto. However, as speculators quit the game upon the bursting of the bubble, reducing much of the buzz and noise in the market, 2019 can be the best time for a crypto reboot. Blockchain evangelists can take a break from the hype and think about how to put the fledgling technology to work in real-world industries.

The communication industry is among the most promising sectors to pair with blockchain. Due to the centralized control of user information and infrastructure resources by a few telecommunications giants, the sector is facing increased data breach risks as well as development bottlenecks in 5G and Internet of Things (IoT). Blockchain can break big telcos’ monopoly and facilitate the growth of a sharing economy in the communication area, improving data security for consumers and reducing costs for dApp developers and telecom providers.

Data security + blockchain

The centralized social media and communication industry is notorious for data breaches. A quick recap of the biggest data scandal last year: UK-based voter-profiling firm Cambridge Analytica manipulated a loophole in the Facebook API to obtain data of at least 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge and sold the data to Trump campaign in 2016.

User information are vulnerable on centralized apps because all the servers handling sensitive data are generally deployed on a limited number of geographically-centralized locations. Hackers or governments can, with some effort, pinpoint the ideal attack vector, just like how having many eggs in just one basket makes them particularly easy to be found by predators. Once hackers or governments find security loopholes on a few servers, they can quickly broaden their attack to the entire network and seize every user’s information, most of which are personally-identifiable information (PII).

On a decentralized version of a social media network like Facebook, however, users may be more comfortable posting on their own timelines, as there is no centralized app operator like Facebook for malicious organizations or individuals to steal information from. On blockchain-based apps, user data are relayed, validated and stored on a peer-to-peer network, which consists of nodes scattered across the globe owned and operated by numerous individuals or groups independent of each other. To snoop on and tamper with certain data, hackers have to pinpoint the specific nodes that handle certain targeted data or take down the whole blockchain network — either approach will generate huge costs and render the hack economically impracticable.

Cloud communication + blockchain

5G, the next-generation wireless technology on the horizon, will pave the way for a wide range of new applications, including autonomous vehicles, Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Cities and VR/AR live streaming, all of these dependent on the real-time transfer of massive volumes of data.

Compared with apps on 4G networks, 5G-powered communication apps, such as ultra high-definition VR live streaming apps, will require veritably more servers and bandwidth to process the deluge of data with low latency. Small to medium-sized app operators cannot afford the costs if they have to set up and maintain in-house servers along with other backend infrastructure, all by themselves.

The blockchain-powered sharing economy is poised to solve this problem. Blockchain can enable a peer-to-peer network, similar to a decentralized version of Amazon Web Services, where any individual or group around the world can share their idle servers and bandwidth to provide cloud communication services for app developers. The tamper-proof consensus mechanism on the blockchain measures the contribution of nodes and rewards them with tokens accordingly, something a centralized infrastructure provider does not do to align incentives for such a global coordination effort.

Free of any centralized middlemen or arbitration bodies, a tokenized decentralized cloud communication network is more transparent than any centralized competitors. As new nodes continue to join the decentralized network, it can quickly become large and strong enough to support data-heavy communication applications at scale in the upcoming 5G era. Companies deploying their apps on a peer-to-peer communication cloud on the blockchain can utilize the shared services and resources to easily reduce their development and maintenance costs, and shorten the development cycles.

On a truly decentralized peer-to-peer cloud network, providers should be able to offer unique services rather than being confined to the service standard and pricing rules set by a centralized governing entity, and customers should have access to the specific services that fit their diverse needs. At TOP Network, a smart contract enables app developers to submit information on the services they need, and service providers to post what they can offer. Based on a series of advanced protocols, the smart contract transparently matches app developers with the right service providers they are looking for and monitors the execution of deals.

IoT + blockchain

When IoT truly arrives on the world stage, machine-to-machine communication will enable advanced capabilities such as a car ordering meals for the driver, and driving to collect food from an automated drive-thru booth. Without tangible cash, credit card or third-party payment apps in sight, the transaction is completed between the car and the booth, which are connected and share data with each other.

Bringing this futuristic scenario into the reality is likely to be “mission impossible” (or at least rather difficult) under centralized business models. To integrate a car into the IoT system, the automaker has to build servers across the nation so that the car has wireless connection with drive-thru booths in different cities where a driver may travel. The automaker and the fast-food joint will need to hammer out protocols to make the car and the booth interoperable. The two companies will also have to develop a strong firewall to protect consumers from hackers targeting large-volume data sharing. These development tasks will lead to unaffordable infrastructure and maintenance cost if companies work in a centralized way.

But blockchain can significantly reduce the cost and speed up the realization of IoT. By utilizing the blockchain-based cloud communication networks mentioned earlier in this article, IoT smart device manufacturers no longer need to deploy fundamental servers and other infrastructure by themselves. The data security afforded by blockchain platforms frees companies from the headache of creating their own firewalls. Interoperability will not be an issue on the blockchain. Devices on the same blockchain-based network will be able to interact with each other from day one, since they adopt the same consensus mechanism.

Blockchain is not the panacea for all the problems and bottlenecks in the communication industry, but it can facilitate a sharing economy that shatters the yoke of infrastructure monopoly and unleashes the full potential of disruptive innovations like IoT. With the power of decentralization, blockchain would play a paramount role in a world of strengthened security, shared resources and large-scale machinery interconnectivity.

About TOP Network

TOP Network is a decentralized open communication network that provides cloud communication services on the blockchain. TOP offers secure, low-cost services such as messaging, calling, video, VPN, CDN, IoT data sharing and more.

TOP Network is also a high-performance public blockchain platform designed to handle real-world business of any size or volume. Powered by cutting-edge techniques including three-layer network, two-layer sharding, two-layer lattice DAG and PBFT-DPoS, TOP can process several hundred thousand transactions per second on the blockchain.

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