Ethereum blockchain developers are apparently optimistic about the possible repeal of net neutrality rules. Many welcome the shift as it may encourage new interest and fresh innovation in blockchain technology. It could also affect the price of Ether, currently trading at $719 — up by about 6.15% within last 24 hours.
Net Neutrality Repeal
After weeks of public outcry and protests, the FCC votes on a repeal of net neutrality later today. Despite broad opposition to a repeal, the federal regulatory body is expected to approve the changes. Under the Obama-era rules, ISPs cannot limit access to the internet, or charge extra fees for content. Repeal of net neutrality could allow internet providers to offer “fast lanes” for paid content. Critics argue the change would drastically change the internet and stifle competition.
However, Ethereum developers see opportunities to sidestep ISPs altogehter. According to them, a repeal of net neutrality may revive interest in mesh networks, an old technology allowing users to access the internet without a conventional provider. Like blockchain, mesh networks are decentralized and rely on a community of users to work. Ethereum developer Karl Floersch believes the technologies could bypass ISPs like Verison, Comcast, and AT&T.
Mesh networks have been around since the 1990s — the heady early days of the internet. Many emerged among like-minded individuals concerned about privacy, and the growing influence of a few big internet providers. Other mesh networks filled the gaps where ISP’s refused to go such as poor, or remote areas. Rural Catalonia has the largest network with almost 40,000 nodes. Donors support most mesh networks, but as users increase, so does bandwidth. Cryptocurrency could cover the cost to run the service.
Ethereum Based System
Floersch described an Ethereum-based system that runs “in the background” of any mobile device. Using an interconnected series of smart contracts, the mobile device could theoretically act as a wi-fi enabled node, helping expand the mesh network’s reach. Floercsh went on to suggest users might use meshcoins — or Ether, of course.
“Ethereum will allow for the kind of payment back-end which makes a mesh network scalable.”
Others agree that now is the time for innovation. The FCC’s repeal of net neutrality may have unintended push-back from the community which could encourage innovative ways to leave the big ISPs behind. Ethereum blockchain could be the future of internet access.