Bitcoin continues to be pioneering as the currency continues to hit all-time high every new season, particularly in 2020.. As at the time this article was written. It currently trades at $26,765. But one of Crypto’s interesting applications is not that individuals trade it to become richer. It’s about solving big challenges that make money for you. It’s about turning capitalist greed (the burden of making payment across countries) into unselfish open-source software.

Crypto doesn’t really have the best rep in the tech world, just about the same thing that happened when the internet started. But Crypto is just a slice of the cake. People often don’t talk about the technology in which Crypto is built upon, that is called “Blockchain.”

The term “Blockchain” always comes to my mind when I hear or read the word ” Cryptocurrency.” But the media frequently correlates “Cryptocurrency” with “illegal transactions.”

In this article, we will briefly examine how valuable the implementation of blockchain technology is being developed, as well as how this offers an enormous opportunity for individuals who study Network Engineering.

With Blockchain What Can You Achieve?

Beyond cryptocurrency, there are interesting things you can achieve with a blockchain:

  1. A Data Which Does Not Change: A company like Twitter is a privately owned social media company. This means that the data can be changed at any time by anyone who has access to the company’s admin database. Unlike a company like Twitter and other Web 2.0 companies, a blockchain is owned by no one, meaning that no single owner can serve as a single source of information for other users.
  2. Digital Scarcity: In a blockchain network, data may be owned by other users, but cannot be copied and distributed to other users. This gives value to an asset the user owns.
  3. Payments: Since cryptocurrency has been integrated into the blockchain, sending valuable assets in the form of tokens such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc. has been made possible and smooth.
  4. User Identification & Data Privacy: This one marvels me a lot because this is what Web 3.0 (Blockchain Web) is built upon. With user identification, a user is given a single blockchain address to sign into all web pages/web applications on the web. We will talk more about this on the next section. With data privacy, a user can control who has access to their information. For instance, if a user logs off a site, the site owners can no longer access their data directly. Unlike Web 2.0 in which the site owners have user credentials stored in their database.

Web 2.0 vs Web 3.0

With Web 2.0 a user has multiple means of identification on the internet. They can also have multiple identification to the same website. One user can have a G-mail, iCloud, or an outlook user identification.

Figure 1: A User with Multiple Identities

But with Web 3.0 which leverages blockchain, the case is different.

On Web 3.0, different blockchain have their network, their community participants and a software which acts as a wallet & form of identification for accessing this network. The most popular blockchain network at the moment is the Ethereum network and it is powered by a popular software called Metamask. This means that on an Ethereum network, they are several websites inside the network. And to log into each of these websites, users only need a single Ethereum blockchain address.

Figure 2: A User with A Single Identity Accessing Multiple Platforms
Figure 3: A User (Me) Accessing a Platform on Web 3.0 With a Blockchain Address

Payments on eCommerce websites are also made with the cryptocurrency of the blockchain network.

Figure 4: A User (Me) Trying to Purchase an Artwork from an E-commerce Website on Web 3.0 Using My Blockchain Address

Users can even build their network, with its own cryptocurrency. That is why you see new cryptocurrencies every day.

Okay, if you are non-IT reader who just wants to know what the future web you might be using soon will look like, you can stop here. One interesting value I feel blockchain is bringing in the telecommunication industry is a proof of location protocol.

FOAM Proof of Location Protocol

Okay, when I say FOAM, I don’t mean the comfy soft material used in making beds. FOAM is a startup who is providing value for people who think that they deserve to have control over who get access to their locations at all time.

For satellites to get the location of a device who has a GPS installed, the GPS sends a signal to the satellite 🛰️, then the satellite calculates the difference in time of arrival, and distance of this signal.

Figure 5: A Satellite Determining the Location of a Device

The FOAM protocol also applies this approach of using four objects (called Zone Anchors) with specialized IoT hardware so they can synchronize themselves over the radio signal they are receiving from the device which came into the area.

Figure 6: Zone Anchors Determining the Location of a Device
Figure 7: Specialized FOAM Zone Anchors Being Installed in Brooklyn, New York

In case you are wondering, why does the satellite or the Zone Anchors have to be four to locate an image?

As each data from one satellite places you in a bubble around the satellite, you need four satellites. You can narrow the possibilities to one single point by evaluating the intersections.

Figure 8: How a Satellite locate an Object

Drawbacks with Depending on GPS

  1. It has a single point of failure, which are satellites. The New York stock exchanges use GPS to automate trades, ATM and card transactions require location data, all transportation machines use GPS, etc. So, having redundancy is extremely important.
  2. It’s susceptible to signal jamming
  3. A GPS received can be deceived with a wrong GPS signal

How Does FOAM Blockchain Provide Opportunity for Network Engineers

This location-based protocol implementation using blockchain proves that a time where all things will be connected securely with 5G is bright and approaching rapidly. And it provides countless opportunities for people who will study network engineering because these engineers will be the one configuring and maintaining these devices.

The first step to starting this journey, is by taking the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) exam. This is because this certification has a low barrier to entry, it provides a positive force in the society (IoT, Blockchain, etc.), and lastly it has a global impact.

Another reason is that this implementation proves that blockchain technology is promising, and blockchain uses distributed system technology which will sky rocket with 5G, meaning that a lot of automation will be achieved. Network engineers have begun taking on automation, by studying the Cisco Development Network Associate (DEVASC) you have the opportunity to be skilled enough to take on this new opportunity.

Additional Reading & Resources

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