HomeTechnologyAnthony Levandowski’s latest moonshot is a peer-to-peer telecom network powered by cryptocurrency...

Anthony Levandowski’s latest moonshot is a peer-to-peer telecom network powered by cryptocurrency – TechCrunch

A brand new cellular knowledge network — accompanied by the quinfecta of a website, Medium submit, white paper, devoted subreddit and Discord channel —  quietly launched late Tuesday night in San Francisco, promising a new method to change knowledge anonymously and at excessive speeds with out counting on legacy carriers and at a cheaper value. The peer-to-peer open supply wi-fi network known as Pollen Mobile will incentivize its customers with a cryptocurrency to run their very own mini cell towers and construct out the network’s protection within the Bay Area the place the service is initially launching.

Anthony Levandowski’s autonomous car expertise startup Pronto AI is launching the undertaking. Levandowski, a polarizing, early pioneer within the autonomous car trade, was pardoned final yr by former President Donald Trump after being sentenced to 18 months in jail on one rely of stealing commerce secrets and techniques.

Why is an autonomous car startup creating a decentralized telecom incentivized by cryptocurrency? The catalyst of Pollen Mobile stemmed from Pronto’s want for dependable, reasonably priced cellular connectivity for its autonomous automobiles, Levandowski, who is nonetheless CEO of Pronto, instructed TechCrunch in a textual content message dialog. Pronto has been utilizing Pollen internally for its AVs for months.

“The reason why is simple, we needed reliable, affordable mobile connectivity for our AVs and we couldn’t find it,” he wrote. “So we built our own and realized it could be something others want.” He added later: “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

The distributed Pollen Mobile network, which plans to start its preliminary launch within the coming days depends on a network of knowledge transmitters it considerably oddly calls flowers, bumblebees and hummingbirds — code for radio towers, connectivity validation units and cell phones.

An FCC rule change in 2020 allowed the corporate to construct its personal cell towers and create mini-mobile networks for the websites the place its autonomous automobiles function, in line with its post on Medium.

“We got to thinking about all the other things that people don’t like about existing mobile companies. We saw an opportunity to build something truly revolutionary — something that tackles what we see as the “Four Horsemen” of cellular networks,” the Medium weblog submit states. These “Four Horsemen” are a lack of privateness and anonymity, poor protection, excessive prices and no consumer voice.”

Small cell towers known as “flowers,” which vary from the scale of a pizza field to as much as six ft tall, present protection of between a few blocks as much as one mile. These flowers are put in by “flower owners” of their properties or workplaces and connect with the web and supply protection to different Pollen customers. Flower operators earn PollenCoin (PCN) from the neighborhood of customers relying on the protection space, service high quality and quantity of knowledge transmitted, in line with data the corporate posted on its Discord channel.

Operators pay the upfront price for the bodily knowledge transmitter {hardware}, the most cost effective (and smallest) flower prices $999 whereas the biggest and strongest transmitter prices greater than $10,000. Justifying the excessive upfront price means operators taking a leap of religion that the network will succeed and the worth of PCN’s fastened provide will improve.

Image Credits: Screenshot/Pollen Mobile

One of the numerous open questions for the nascent endeavor is how or if ISPs will reply — the distributed network can be piggybacking onto flower operators’ dwelling web and can be channeling peer-to-peer knowledge by these networks.

The network presently has greater than a dozen radio towers working within the Bay Area in line with the corporate’s network tracker.

Pollen Mobile will ship smaller units known as “bumblebees” that acquire knowledge in regards to the power of the network’s protection. These units, which validate “flower” protection, are additionally owned by customers and may be positioned of their automobile, drone or bike. Bumblebee house owners additionally earn PCN based mostly on the variety of distinctive protection validations offered every day.

Finally, there are the “hummingbirds,” that are the cellular units that use the Pollen network.  Phones would require an eSIM obtain to connect with the network, and different units like laptops can join through a particular adapter (known as “Wings”), the corporate mentioned. Users pay for connectivity utilizing PCN.

Eventually constructing out a network of customers keen to pay for a knowledge network in its earliest levels will rely on promoting the imaginative and prescient of a extra nameless cellular network which doesn’t promote or log buyer knowledge. The data-only network additionally received’t permit for cellphone calls or SMS messages and customers paying for the service received’t get a cellphone quantity.

Pollen has to this point been operated internally by Pronto as a subsidiary. Levandowski mentioned it will likely be turned over to a decentralized autonomous group, or eDAO, and run independently from there. The group will finally govern how the network evolves and dictate how and the place customers are incentivized to construct out protection.

“We’re not controlling where flowers go,” Levandowksi instructed TechCrunch. “We designed the network so that the community and market forces will determine where rewards flow.”

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