Bitnodes, a platform that keeps updated information on the Bitcoin nodes, shows that in 2018, the number of active reachable nodes fell by 19%.
The total number of nodes at the start of the year stood at 11,845. The end of 2018 shows the nodes to fall to 9,597. During the year, the number of unreachable nodes also fell from 98,000 to 65,000.
Reachable nodes are ones that allow two-way transmission of data, that is, in and out. Unreachable ones are nodes that only allow data to flow one way: out. Unreachable nodes cannot accept incoming data due to a number of reasons. This includes hiding behind firewalls or being covered by a Network Access Translation.
A higher number of unreachable nodes on the Bitcoin network is a good thing, at least on paper. These nodes are more secure and make it extremely difficult for hackers to access them due to the blockades and IP masking involved. They also make anonymization more powerful when compared to their reachable counterparts. Unreachable nodes, however, have limitations on the network since they are not full nodes. Without access to incoming transmissions, they cannot update and maintain the decentralized ledgers. Reachable nodes, therefore, are the ones that actually ensure the whole network remains up and running.
The falling number of reachable and unreachable nodes may be due to the declining price of Bitcoin. The node owners might perceive other options such as cloud computing and other computational activities more lucrative.
The fall is still not significant enough to warrant worry as the Bitcoin network is still secure. It will take more than just a mere 19% fall for the Bitcoin network to collapse. If Bitcoin price again rises in 2019, it is expected that the nodes will be switched back to the network as running them becomes more profitable.
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