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At some point in every Bitcoin investor’s life, they stop and think to themselves, “what happens to Bitcoin if the internet goes down?” It’s true that originally Bitcoin depended on the internet to send and receive blockchain data between nodes. It’s also true that, for the most part, this is still the case today. However, this may not always be the scenario moving forward.
The End of Days
If the internet were to drop out of existence today, it would place Bitcoin in a peculiar state. For one, any event that could halt the internet is sure to be something that would have a significant impact on the planet. These events could include anything from nuclear war to natural disasters or even a plague.
In these uncertain times, it would be great to know that you can count on Bitcoin to provide the world with access to the decentralized economy, even if the internet went down permanently. Thankfully, the crypto community includes some of the most inventive and ingenuitive minds in the world. Here are just a few ways that Bitcoin will survive the apocalypse.
Pondering how to spend your Satoshis during the zombie apocalypse is a popular pastime amongst Bitcoiners. As such, the concept of radio wave Bitcoins first emerged in 2014. At that time, a Finnish firm by the name of Vertaisvaluutta.fi proposed a P2P CB/HAM radio crypto.
Later that year, the Finnish firm, Kryptoradio, announced a pilot radio-based crypto transmission system. Amazingly, the system could broadcast Bitcoin transactions, blocks, and even currency exchange data. This task required the use of national DVB-T television networks to provide the data in real-time.
In 2018, another radio-based alternative to the internet entered the sector via mesh networks. Mesh networks utilize short-range radio relays to communicate information between parties. One company pioneering these devices is TxTenna.
Currently, the company offers a $179 off-grid product called the goTenna. This small, lightweight unit allows you to share data, including GPS, text, and blockchain information within your network and beyond. Interestingly, goTenna can connect to a Bitcoin wallet directly.
In 2017 Blockstream took Bitcoin to another level with the launch of their Blockchain Satellites. These satellites once and for all ended the debate about Bitcoin operating without internet access. These hi-tech devices circle the planet and broadcast the Bitcoin blockchain around the world 24/7.
In this way, Blockstream satellites protect against network interruptions. Amazingly, even if the entire internet were to go down, the blockchain could remain intact, and blocks still confirmed internationally.
No Internet – No Problem
Additionally, since the satellites broadcast globally, they also provide rural and underdeveloped areas the opportunity to access Bitcoin’s blockchain. Best of all, because anyone can receive blocks for free, this strategy allows the entire planet to participate in the decentralized economy.
Bitcoin by Air
In 2017 longtime Bitcoinist, Nick Szabo and Ph.D. Researcher Elaine Ou revisited the concept of Bitcoin via radio waves at a discussion at Stanford University. In the talk, the two spoke on the possibility of tethering Bitcoin to radio broadcast to secure consensus proofs using weak signal radio propagation.
According to their documentation, you don’t need much to make this happen. They demonstrated the concept with an SDR ham radio, a 40m 7Mhz antenna, and the JS8call application. Before the demonstration, they touched on some important legal issues to consider.
For one, many countries require you to possess a Ham radio license to broadcast publicly. Additionally, you must take into consideration that you will broadcast encrypted messages over these monitored channels. Depending on where you live, this may also require an additional license. The good news is that this strategy is only for the most extreme situations.
Together is the Way
In June 2019, GoTenna and Blockstream announced a collaboration between the firms. The goal is to leverage their technologies to develop a way to run a node and complete Bitcoin transactions even if the net is down globally, or even worse, permanently. Describing the concept, goTenna developers stated that users –
“can receive blockchain data via a satellite, and can send signed transactions via goTenna’s mesh network. All without an internet connection.“
Bitcoin During the Apocalypse
While there’s still no sign of an alien invasion on the horizon, it doesn’t hurt to understand how to use your Bitcoin in the case of catastrophic events. Crucially, this skill could one day save your life. The good news is that for the foreseeable future, your Bitcoins are safe from the undead.