Blockchain technology firm Blockstream has expanded its Bitcoin satellite service to the Asia-Pacific region. The company also added support for Lightning Network transactions, which will allow users to pay for its service using the second layer scaling solution as soon as in January 2019.
Blockstream satellite service was first launched in August 2017 and lets users transfer BTC through leased satellites. Previously covering Africa, North and South America as well as Europe, now Blockstream has added support for Asia-Pacific region, bringing access to the service to some of the most populous regions of the world.
The service is aimed at individuals with limited internet access or those who otherwise face issues accessing Bitcoin.
“In addition to the Phase 2 expansion, we’re also excited to reveal the Blockstream Satellite API, a groundbreaking new broadcast service coming in January 2019. The Satellite API empowers users to access the Blockstream Satellite network to broadcast data to the whole world, paid for via the Lightning Network!” reads the announcement.
We’re excited to announce Phase 2 of #BlockstreamSatellite coverage is live! Asia-Pacific users can now receive #Bitcoin data at no cost. We’re also revealing the #SatelliteAPI which enables users to pay via ⚡️ to broadcast data worldwide from the ?️’s. https://t.co/wBqXSsdodE pic.twitter.com/3khTsQzXsW
— Blockstream (@Blockstream) December 17, 2018
Via the Satellite API, users can broadcast unencrypted data to everyone with a satellite receiver or target specific users by using encryption. Combined with the Lightning Network’s onion-routed payments, it will be possible to send totally private messages where no one can identify the sender, the receiver, or the content of the message.
Commenting on the news, Chris Cook, head of the Blockstream Satellite project, said:
“While satellite communications are traditionally cost-prohibitive, Blockstream Satellite will finally allow developers to adopt satellite communications in their applications. The new API will make it possible to send ‘Hello World’ to the world, but we think developers will come up with something a little more adventurous than that. Natural disaster notifications, secure personal messaging, and sending bitcoin market data to remote locations are just some of the exciting examples of the power of this service.”
The coverage of Asia-Pacific also means that Blockstream has added more ground stations (Teleports) to the network, providing plenty of redundancy to ensure the network is kept up and running.
To use the service, users will need a small satellite dish (TV satellite receivers are supposed to work fine) connected by USB to a personal computer or a piece of dedicated computer hardware such as a Raspberry Pi. Free, open-source software, such as GNU Radio, can be used for managing the connection.