New Study By goTenna Shows Mobile Communications Can Use Bitcoin Lightning Network

goTenna, New York-based startup that designs and advances technologies for off-grid and decentralized communication has recently released a paper that shows how decentralized mesh networks could be powered by bitcoin micropayments.

The project whitepaper says:

“80 billion mobile messages are sent each day via carriers and ISPs. Mobile mesh networks offer an anti-fragile, decentralized alternative that can extend connectivity to places centralized networks can’t.”

Now, with the arrival of smartphones, people have the ability to power mobile mesh networks and communicate with each other in a P2P manner. Mobile mesh networks need a decentralized way to ensure relay and gateway nodes operate when and where they are needed to optimize coverage and reliability. This is where their new protocol comes in.

They suggest a new payment channel communication protocol intended to incentivize the delivery of messages over even low bandwidth MANETs. They accomplish this by reducing the transmission overhead needed to make payments between nodes. Their protocol also minimizes the trust required between mesh nodes when not connected to the internet.

In the draft of the abstract of the whitepaper, Richard Myers of Global Mesh Labs, which is a subsidiary of goTenna writes:

“Our approach is to create a payment channel network (PCN) based on the Bitcoin Lightning Network but adapted for very low-bandwidth ad hoc mobile networks and therefore also applicable to less-constrained mesh topologies. To reduce incentive protocol overhead we propose using signature aggregation, simplex payment channel updates, and payment channels formed between mesh nodes within direct communication range.”

Nodes fundamentally transfer payments to incentivize the transmission of their data without internet connectivity. Only when nodes less commonly establish, checkpoint or close payment channels must they relay payment data to a mesh connected internet gateway. However, this requires that both the Schnorr signature and SIGHASH_NOINPUT signature hash flag protocol updates to be adopted by the Bitcoin community, which is a tough ask.


Existing payment channel protocols do not focus on efficiently routing data and payments at the same time over multiple low bandwidth hops. They solve this problem by using a more data efficient channel update scheme and signature aggregation to settle transactions. This system opens up a flexible design space for optimizing the coverage and reliability of mobile wireless mesh networks.

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