In brief

  • Blockstream has upgraded its Bitcoin Satellite network to version 2.0.
  • Users can now synchronize a full Bitcoin node without an Internet connection.
  • The company will soon launch sales of specialized satellite receivers and dishes.

Blockstream, a Canadian blockchain services company known for its work on the Bitcoin Lightning Network, has announced the launch of Blockstream Satellite 2.0—an upgraded version of its satellite-based BItcoin network.

Per the announcement, version 2.0 introduces a standards-based transmission protocol, more bandwidth, additional coverage areas and the ability to sync a full Bitcoin node without any Internet connection.

The satellites broadcast Bitcoin data to almost all populated regions. Image: Blockstream

Blockstream’s satellite project hopes to answer the question “What good is Bitcoin if the Internet fails?” The startup uses teleports around the world to beam Bitcoin blockchain data to six geostationary satellites around the Earth. These satellites then broadcast the data to almost all populated regions.

With version 2.0, Blockstream’s satellite network has switched its custom protocol used in 1.0 to a standard one, called DVB-S2. This resulted in improved signal efficiency and reliability, higher bitrates and significantly increased data capacity and bandwidth, according to the announcement.

The update also implemented new technology designed to reduce the volume of transmitted data by over 50%, resulting in over 25x the data rate compared to the first version.

Blockstream Satellite 2.0 now allows users to fully synchronize and download the entirety of the Bitcoin blockchain, while previously the network still required an Internet connection for the initial sync.

Blockstream has added another satellite to the network, expanding coverage over the Asia-Pacific region.

Existing users should note that version 1.0 will be disabled on June 1, although their hardware will remain compatible with the 2.0 network—they’ll just need to update the software.

Getting your own spacelink

The company is also preparing to launch a pre-sale of two specialized satellite kits. The “Blockstream Satellite Basic Kit” will cost $299 and include a consumer-grade satellite receiver compatible with Linux-based computers, such as Raspberry Pi.

The pro version includes rack-mountable professional hardware and will cost $799. It will include all the basic features as well as the additional dual-satellite capability and multicasting, allowing to provide Bitcoin data to multiple devices on the same network.

Additionally, both kits will require a minimum 60cm/24in satellite antenna dish for full synchronization. Customers will be able to use their existing ones—or order a flat-panel antenna array from Blockstream for $199. The first batch of satellite kits is scheduled to be shipped mid-June.

Because if you’re not streaming your Bitcoin from space, you’re not really cool, are you?

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