Tech company Blockstream announced on 17 December 2018 that it has added a fifth satellite to its constellation broadcasting the Bitcoin network. This new satellite covers the Asia-Pacific region, so now all major landmasses on Earth except for Greenland and Antarctica can use Bitcoin via satellites. Further, Blockstream has expanded capabilities to provide a full version of the Bitcoin blockchain, as well as a worldwide anonymous messaging network.

Previously Blockstream satellites only provided the most recent Bitcoin blocks but now will provide the full Bitcoin blockchain. This will allow users worldwide, even in the most remote locations, to run full Bitcoin nodes. This opens up the possibility of mining Bitcoin in locations that are well-removed from internet but rich in renewable energy like solar, geothermal, or hydroelectric.

Perhaps most importantly, Blockstream ensures that Bitcoin can be used independently of the internet, making Bitcoin more decentralized. This also expands the global coverage of the Bitcoin network, since most locations on the Earth can now send and receive Bitcoin transactions. This could be quite useful in disaster scenarios when local internet grid stops working.

A messaging network integrated with onion-routing, similar to Tor, will be launched in January 2019. This will allow users to send completely encrypted messages worldwide without using the internet. Transactions will be paid for via the Bitcoin Lightning Network, with fees calculated per KB of data.

The Blockstream satellite constellation has made Bitcoin independent of the internet and has spread Bitcoin’s network coverage across the globe, giving it an advantage over all other cryptocurrencies.


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