bHotspot

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bHotspot is a blockchain-driven (decentralized) WiFi hotspot system allowing users around the world to connect to nearby WiFi networks without involving a third party and at a much better cost than current WiFi hotspot or mobile data solutions.

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Overview

A blockchain-driven (decentralized) WiFi hotspot system would allow users around the world to connect to nearby WiFi networks without involving a third party and at a much better cost than current WiFi hotspot or mobile data solutions. The blockchain technology

1 provides most of the solution in a simple and elegant way. With the use of smart contracts
2 at the connection level, we provide a solution that is trustless, rewards owners running the Service with a configurable usage fee and open the world to new possibilities with millions of WiFi routers out there connected to the Internet.
Initial Tech Specs:
Smart Contract Platform / Blockchain: Ethereum
Router Architectures Targeted*: amd64, armv7, arm64
App Platforms Targeted*: Android, Linux, Windows

Introduction

The Internet has become a standard in the everyday life of millions of people 3 4 , the underlying infrastructure is based on millions of routers currently in place around the world, most of them already WiFi enabled 5 . These routers are in service 24/7 and allow users to connect to the Internet in a wired or wireless manner. Despite these routers being constantly available worldwide and providing Internet services, many users rely on expensive, unreliable mobile data to connect to the Internet 4 because no or poorly implemented solutions are in place to use these routers instead. What is needed is a way for users to use the connection these routers offer, in a seamless, low cost way, while compensating the Owners of the routers for offering it. Routers controlling the use of the service through transactions and smart contracts as part of a global blockchain allow the system to run in a trustless and secure environment where only minor external involvement is necessary. Described in more details below, the Service and the App, built on top of the chosen blockchain, provide the necessary components for this system to work.

The Owner

We define the Owner as either the customer who purchased the router, or the ISP who is supplying the router to its customers. The Owner is the beneficiary of the fees generated by the Service when used, he is also the one in charge of activating and configuring the Service initially.

The Service

We define the Service as a group of programs running on a router using a combination of transactions and smart contracts on top of a blockchain to allow or deny the use of the Internet connection of the router through a WiFi network. The Service is composed of a light node of the blockchain it is configured to work with. The Owner of a router can decide to activate the service in the router’s configuration page, either in a permanent or temporary fashion, recurrent or not. The service’s configuration is stored on the blockchain to keep a secure record and validate against it when transacting. The configuration contains information about the available speed, the fees, the restrictions in place, etc… When a connection is requested to the WiFi network, the Service initiates a transaction with the smart contract to validate and allow/deny the device to connect. The smart contract takes care of executing the transaction for the payment of the fees as soon as the device disconnects from the WiFi network. The 802.11u standard is used to broadcast the Service’s information to nearby supported devices. By leveraging "identification through transaction", the blockchain is effectively used as a replacement for the RADIUS servers and gateways used in traditional hotspot systems.

The App

We define the App as a software on the device allowing it to interact with the Service. Just like the Service, the App is also composed of a light node of the blockchain it is configured to work with, it is designed to handle connecting to nearby WiFi networks who provide the Service by interacting with the smart contracts through the routers. The App also allows automatic connection based on a user-defined configuration for easy roaming. Whenever available, the App switches over to the known WiFi networks to avoid unnecessary fees. [Future] The ideal implementation would be to integrate the elements needed on top of the built-in WiFi manager of the platform to allow for simpler connections, without the need for a separate app

Token

We define the Token as the crypto-currency used by the bHotspot network. The amount of Tokens required to use a connection is defined by the Owner when configuring the Service. The Tokens are automatically transferred to the owner’s address. Owners can then easily spend them through the app by using others’ Services, exchange them on a crypto-currency exchange, or store them for later use. The monetization of the hotspots incentivizes Owners to provide better service, like increased bandwidth and reliability, as their cost is partially or fully covered by the usage fees.

Possible Implementations

The system described above offers multiple possible implementations for the Service. Below are the two general ones.

At the customer level

A customer can decide to activate the Service and provide a configuration as they see fit. If needed, the Service can be set up to activate only when the customer is not there (vacation, work, night…). The customer chooses the bandwidth they want to allocate to the Service. The customer can now monetize their connection when they wish to do so, and partially or fully refund the price of the connection. This also benefit ISPs, as customers will be inclined to get better connections from them to provide better hotspots, and be able to increase their Service fees.

At the ISP level

An ISP supplying their own routers to customers can provide the Service themselves by having an extra amount of bandwidth reserved for it, on top of the customer’s paid bandwidth, the ISP would then be the beneficiary of the Service fees. An ISP could also make a deal with some customers (think businesses), to split the profit of running the Service and promoting the ISP’s connection.

Conclusions

What we propose is a WiFi hotspot system that does not rely on trust or third parties, and can work in complete autonomy once the initial configuration is done. Through the use of a router service combined with an application on the user’s device, we offer a low cost, seamless way to connect to the millions of WiFi networks around the world and benefit from better, more reliable Internet connections while compensating the providers of the Service for making it available.

References

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockchain
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_contract
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Internet_usage
4. https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/statistics/2014/ITU_Key_2005-2014_ICT_data.xls
5. http://news.ihsmarkit.com/press-release/technology/nine-10-global-broadband-households-have-serviceprovider-wi-fi-2019-ihs-sa

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