Blockchain technology may help Launch ISP provide better internet service

Two Murray Bridge entrepreneurs plan to launch Australia's first blockchain-based internet service provider.

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World-leading technology can deliver cheaper, more reliable internet to households and businesses in Murray Bridge, say the owners of a local start-up.

Launch ISP is the brainchild of Daniel Gower and Daniel Hocking, ex-Telstra employees frustrated by the relatively poor quality of internet service available in parts of the district at present.

A three-day interruption to Mr Hocking’s connection at his home at Avoca Dell was enough to motivate him to try and do better.

The business partners believed two key innovations would make their internet service provider the equal to any in the world.

The first innovation was network design.

Picture a tree, branching out from a trunk to many small twigs: this is the way most households are connected to the internet at present, through large companies with main-line connections to the worldwide web.

If a branch breaks, its connection to the whole is broken.

Instead, Mr Gower and Mr Hocking plan a service structured like a net, where every part stays connected even if a few lines are cut.

Every computer connected to Launch ISP’s wireless network would boost the network’s signal for other computers nearby, giving every user a more reliable connection.

The second innovation would be establishing a data storage centre alongside the ISP.

The internet doesn’t just float around in space; every file on every website must be stored somewhere, typically in warehouses full of servers in the US and elsewhere.

But again, technology has advanced to the point where – Mr Gower said – small, inexpensive units called Skyminers could be used to store data to be accessed anywhere around the world.

Launch ISP would sell that storage capacity and use the proceeds to subsidise the cost of internet access for network users.

In time, users might be able to sell their excess monthly data, reducing their internet bills still further.

Launch would use blockchain technology, in partnership with a company called Skycoin, to securely manage the network and its data storage capacity.

Despite sharing some of the same technology, though, Mr Gower said Launch ISP would have nothing to do with the uncertain world of cryptocurrency, or with the peer-to-peer file-sharing networks of the past.

“The two main things we want to do are bring cheaper internet to rural Australia ... and create jobs,” he said.

Accountant Shaun Williams and marketer Tony Coppola are the other two directors of the fledgling enterprise, which is in a pre-launch crowdfunding phase at present.

Thirty-seven investors have so far pledged more than $44,000 to the company ahead of a deadline next Tuesday.