Lightning Network transactions are undergoing a lot of crucial changes. Offline payments may have seemed like a very distant dream, but they are certainly within reach. The Fldigi-proxy solution allows for payments to be sent using ham radio waves.
The Lightning Network Situation
A lot has been said about Bitcoin’s Lightning Network over the years. Some say it will change payments forever, whereas others are confident this is not the right path forward. Regardless of who turns out to be correct, the technology has a lot of potential. It is now a matter of getting more people to use this layer as quickly as possible.
That may prove somewhat difficult. Not because people aren’t interested in faster and cheaper Bitcoin transactions, but rather due to technical reasons. It requires internet access, which is not always available in certain regions. Finding a way to create offline LN transactions would help shake things up. Surprisingly, such a solution is already in development.
The Fldigi Approach
Several enthusiasts have been working on ways to make Lightning Network transfers possible without the internet. A daunting challenge, as it would require a fair bit of tinkering. Interestingly enough, some of the oldest “wireless” technology proves to be a great ally. Leveraging ham radio waves has tremendous potential in this regard.
Known as the Fldigi-proxy, it controls a radio to send and receive data packets. Combined with the Lnproxy software, it can effectively be used to achieve communication with Lightning channel peers. Lnproxy is built to use a TCP/IP port by default. The Fldigi proxy can connect to this port to send and receive information.
What is even more interesting is how the different frequencies can be used for optimal LN support. Using specific frequencies allows for long-distance broadcasting of the information. Assuming there is another radio operator looking for signals, the transmission can be completed across vast distances.
As viable as the approach seems, there are some limitations. First of all, one needs at least two radio operators for every transaction. Second, the operators cannot both be broadcasting at the same time. There are also some questions as to how long signals can be transmitted for.
Promising First Results
Putting this concept to the test, some interesting results have been recorded. It is possible to, with the right setup, send a Lightning Network transaction within 5 minutes. An impressive feat, especially when considering how there is room for further tweaking and improvements.
The next order of business is using this setup with real-world radio setups. Calling in help from amateur radio operators should provide some necessary feedback as well. Many Bitcoin enthusiasts can benefit from this model, assuming it is viable in the real world. This would certainly give Bitcoin an even more global appeal.
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