Cryptography is taking over, yes, let’s face it. Crypto is winning. Big time. Let’s take a moment to ignore all the drama and price speculations on all the moonshot coins out there and focus on some real technology. There are meme coins and altcoins, but let’s look at a couple of coins that have REAL WORLD PRODUCTS attached to them. Not just speculation, not just hype, not just a large Twitter or social frenzy–but tokens and coins that are supporting things like getting remote devices online, linking smoke detectors, or transmitting soil moisture data 5 miles away to a receiver? Guess what? People are using crypto to do this–and they are calling it mining! What??? Yes. You can buy these “miners” and make money. I’m doing it. Stick with me on this.

This is what we call next-generation tokenomics… Enter Machine Xchange Coin-MXC and the Helium Network-HNT.

First of all. Let’s define some terms.

LPWAN: Low-Power Wide Area Network, think miles and kilometers rather than feet and meters. We use networks like this all the time and don’t think about the acronyms.

Have you used Bluetooth recently? Bluetooth is a Low-Power Local Area Network(LPLAN) protocol. Bluetooth can send data a few meters away to your headphones or mouse, and it uses a Bluetooth proprietary radio. That radio transmits and receives LPLAN protocols. (BTW: There are billions of devices out there in the world that are using Bluetooth radios. Billions.)

Let’s look at this graphic:

How does this work? It’s simple really–and I know, I don’t like it when people say something is simple and then immediately start saying something that doesn’t make any sense. So let’s break it down like this.

Let’s say you’re in a room with lots and lots of people in it, and you’re trying to talk to someone that’s standing on the other side of the room. If you try to just talk to that person, with a normal tone of voice, and a normal volume–that person won’t be able to hear you. But if you shout a few short words in a lower tone but with more emphasis, “PLEASE COME HERE.” The chances that the person hears you and understands what you’re saying goes way up. Radios just amplify sound and transmit it a long way. They work the same way as you shouting, just with more efficiency. Dogs use the very same “technology.” A low bark can be heard from 100s of yards away by our ears… maybe miles away for dogs. Wolves howl to transmit data miles around them.

LPWAN is just a fancy name for a super-efficient radio that can transmit small amounts of data a long way without the use of a cellular or any other third-party system.

Okay, great–so dogs barking is a wonderful technology. What does it mean for us? How can we make money?

Now that we understand exactly what LPWAN is, and generally, how it works (with radios); we have to go back to our gif image above and make sure we make the connection (pun achieved) with what these things are doing. They are putting devices online for a fraction of the cost.

Farmers in China are using LPWANs to connect to their cows out in pastures miles and miles away.

This is in 2018 people!

What about that gas/electric/water meter on your house or apartment? Guess how other countries are collecting that data? Do you think in China, they have a meter guy walking around to every single power meter and recording it by hand on a piece of paper and then transcribing that paper into a database back at the home office? That’s what we do in some locations–in 2021!

B2C=Business to Consumer, B2B=Business to Business, B2G=Business to Government, B2BB=Big Business…

I was at the pet store the other day and wanted to get a radio collar for my dog. They had Bluetooth trackers, and GPS trackers… all of them were expensive and required some kind of account with a cell phone provider like AT&T or Verizon. Or, they were short distance. Boo. I don’t want to pay for yet another phone line just to find my dog–especially if I can use something free like LPWAN technology to find my dog, bag, car, child… see what I mean.

Those little tiles that some people use to find their keys are awesome right? Imagine a tile that you could attach to something and then not charge for weeks or years. Hook it up to solar and now you can find it anywhere at any time… I think the more you think about it… the more ideas will come to you and you’ll start to see where we can use this.

Want to know how “Smart Cities” are being built? Yep. LPWAN.

What do we need to get started with this?

We need radios–and guess what. We have radios.

Back in May, I ordered a set of M2Pro Radios. In the image above they are the “Gateway Owners.” I’m a gateway owner. I have now set up 2 radios one at my home and one at a family member’s house about a mile away. Anyone can connect to me and use them to get to a network. The connection to use one of my radios is completely managed by the device itself–I am just providing a gateway and getting paid with MXC tokens to do this.

True Decentralized Networks

In the past, I’ve tried to understand how blockchain is important–if you get on Twitter or Reddit, you might find some good information about all of this, but a lot of it is just has too much interference from other channels. People mix politics, drama, and polarity into these things. Now I understand decentralization much better.

Imagine if the MXC foundation tried to officially pay me to host one of their gateways here in my house. I’d need a contract, some kind of agreement, some bank account, attorneys, accountants–all great but expensive.

Screenshot from my Data Dash App, just now.

Look at how they are doing it. All I have to do is buy one of their antennas–and put it in my house and connect it to the internet. That device sends small amounts of crypto to me, using the Data Dash App which is really just a device manager and a cryptocurrency wallet. As you read this, I’m collecting MXC tokens. That’s the incentive, and I’m getting paid just by turning on a radio. The MXC Foundation is willing to pay me “rent” to provide the capacity to other application developers and companies to use the network–and it’s extremely affordable. The cost for a downlink is 88 MXC at the time of writing. I’m still learning about these figures, and I’m in the process of building small devices that I can connect to these radios so I can see exactly what it costs me.

Cost? Under $40 USD. Not bad for a world-changing technology that’s years old.

There are lots of ideas that come to me for this. You have to think low bandwidth though. Small amounts of data, not large ones… could we send movies with this? well… no. Text messages, Tweets? I’ll bet you a BTC!

LPWANs are great solutions for some applications requiring intermittent or inconsistent data transfer over long distances for a long time. Think smart garbage disposal meters, smart parking meters, or soil and water quality sensors, collars on cows in a Montana pasture, or maybe dolphins that a scientist is tracking without GPS.

It’s happening

There’s a lot I’m skipping over, obviously, there are some shortcomings to these devices, and haven’t really scratched the surface. But you can visit and see the devices that are linked to the Huobi Pool. I’m connected there, but you can see there are way more gateways in other countries than in the USA. Europe is awash with these antennas.

Because this topic is so vast with so much to cover, I’m going to stop for now and call this Part One of a four-part series on LPWAN and how it’s colliding with cryptocurrency.

I’ll be publishing the next parts of this soon. I’m still waiting for my HNT coin miners so I’m going to probably wait until I have those in hand and running for a while before I write about those. Here’s how I’ll go about this series… (subject to change)

  • Part One: What is LPWAN, Exactly? *This Post.
  • Part Two: What are real use case scenarios and which companies are actually using this technology.
  • Part Three: How does crypto intersect with this technology?
  • Part Four: Deep dive analysis into the M2Pro Miner and The HNT Miner.

Featured Photo by Jack Sloop on Unsplash

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