The impact of decentralized infrastructure on wireless communications

The impact of decentralized infrastructure on wireless communications

The Diode Network enables practical distributed trust for IoT communications (and for other modalities as well). The implications of this for distributed IT infrastructure are significant. However, as the reality of distributed infrastructure emerges, other more immediate applications on the way to fully distributed infrastructure are also interesting. One of these applications is distributed wireless network operations.

For star topology wireless networks, as exists in today’s cellular communications paradigm, there are four primary things required to deliver end-to-end communication: 1) A Bridge 2) Security 3) Identity 4) Routing. We are all familiar with “cell towers” - the wireless-to-backbone bridges of cellular communications. In other wireless paradigms, similar functions are sometimes called gateways or base stations (or combinations thereof). Communication from the device to the base station (and onwards over the backbone network or Internet) in today’s deployments implement security measures - often both on the wireless transport as well as on the data itself. In order to receive or transmit data from a device, an identity - often in the form of a SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card or other embedded immutable identity - is used to verify the device’s identity and billing status from a central database. And finally, the data stream has an address associated with it that is intrinsic to the type of communication, enabling the network to route the communications to the right destination.

The infrastructure required to deploy these networks is costly, and because demand is largely driven by today’s handheld media consumption, the optimization of the network is catered towards high bandwidth applications. Base station investment for the leading cellular providers is significant, and is a major factor in the slowness of the industry to support new wireless communications technologies. Further, cellular base stations are complex pieces of equipment - so complex that primary manufacturers can be counted on one hand. The competition is also cut-throat, leading to controversies surrounding intellectual property and the security of data.

In contrast, roll-your own IoT wireless networks are simple to deploy and are available from a wide array of providers today. The main drawbacks to these networks is that they vary in some of the details of implementation from one network to another, and the base station operators from one network are not incentivized to support communications for devices outside of their control.

In the coming years, as big business continues to operate large, costly, and unwieldy centralized networks optimized for handheld communications, and as roll-your own IoT network operators become more efficient and standardized, blockchain based communications based on the Diode Network will help close the gap. The Diode Network provides both the economy, based on blockchain incentives for connectivity (e.g. base stations), and the functionality, based on security, routing, and identity, that roll your own wireless networks are missing today. Further, increasingly capable distributed infrastructure functionality will naturally emerge, and can be oriented to operate near the edge, or in optimized cost regions, depending on the use cases. This shift in orienting data-center like infrastructure near the edge is already underway by organizations investing in edge data center virtualization for wireless networks, such as VMWare, Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft’s Azure, and others (stay tuned for our coming article on Blockchain Defined Infrastructure). However, blockchain based infrastructure/data-center virtualization represents a grassroots trend that will be inherent, and seamless, to both base station operations and cost-optimized infrastructure locations.

In addition to the impact on cellular operations and cellular backbone hardware providers, data center virtualization providers will also be impacted by the closing gap between centralized handheld and decentralized IoT paradigms. Organizations who currently operate in one or more of these areas can play an important part in realizing the future of wireless communications by aligning their business operations with the implications of blockchain technology. Organizations who align early, whether new entrants or existing players, will be the ones who will realize the innovations and disrupt the market.