Dylan Sharkey, who joined LinkedIn before its successful IPO in 2011 and was assigned to launch the Dubai office as employee number two, – scaling it up to over 100 employees – has left the company to join a new start-up that aims to form an ethereum based global ISP.
Iungo, plans to bootstrap a global community that contributes to a distributed wireless internet service provider by individuals and businesses installing public Wi-Fi access points on their premises and/or running parts of the service infrastructure.
The market is primarily mobile phones, which despite costing $40 a month or more, still provide extremely limited bandwidth, requiring $10 or so for 1GB of data, at least in Europe.
Moreover, few, if any of the big ones, provide unlimited bandwidth smart phone contracts, unless the cost is exorbitantly high. In great contrast to desktop computers which have enjoyed unlimited internet for a decade or more.
Iungo says the reason might be monopolies, with the start-up stating that “the majority of Internet service providers are multi billion dollar telecommunications companies like AT&T, Verizon and China mobile.”
However, that can be overcome by individuals or businesses, in effect, sharing their bandwidth through an access point router, so allowing anyone, for a price, to tap into it.
There are already networks that do so, with FON potentially being better known, but their prices are prohibitively expensive. Iungo, in contrast, incorporates a competitive aspect between the bandwidth providers within the distributed network, allowing you to choose which one you’d like.
The underlying technicalities are complex, with the takeaway being that this isn’t an ISP itself, but a distributed network built on top of current infrastructure. The start-up says:
“Wi-Fi access will be delivered by Wi-Fi access points installed and operated by service providers (IUNGO community members). Access points will provide customer devices with physical access to the Internet directly, via existing connections to Internet Service Providers or indirectly via transport gateways operated by service providers having carrier status.
Due to limited hardware resources, access points will offload all end-user identity verification and payment transaction to service gateways. Service gateways will store configuration and state information of all paired access points/site controllers, and will provide database replicas of all deployment sites, proxy reputation feedback data and in concert with wallets will participate in off-chain state channel based micropayment transactions and will be interacting with the Token contract on-chain.
Each service gateway will embed an Ethereum node and will interact with smart contracts on the Ethereum platform on behalf of the wallets. Anyone conforming to the qualification requirements and IUNGO operations rules will be able to operate service gateways and reap the associated rewards.
Service gateway operators will be able to define their own schemes for how they compensate service providers for services rendered. IUNGO ORG will be operating the service gateways taking fixed commission from actual payments received from consumers.”
In effect, you have businesses or individuals that share their bandwidth and pool it through an intermediary service gateway which interacts with the consumer, handling payments and administrative aspects, then passes on the profits to contributing individuals.
The pooled bandwidth (service gateways) can then compete with each other, driving prices down to an equilibrium of costs plus a bit of profit.
As can be seen above, the end user interacts with the intermediary service gateway pool which then passes on the profit and revenue, minus commission, to the individual bandwidth provider.
They are to use payment channels, so zero trust refers to direct payment, while trust based refers to routing around the payment channels network where the specific gateway might not have a direct link between customer and bandwidth provider, but could connect through another gateway.
So forming, through all these numerous interactions, a free market based and competitive global network for internet access.
They are of course to ICO, with the pre-sale already underway where 1% of tokens, at a 3x discount, are to be sold. The full ICO is then to follow with a date, or hardcap, as yet undetermined.
The start-up does not appear to be generating any revenue at this stage, with no numbers, such as sales or profits, provided in the paper, as far as we can see. Which means it is all at a seed stage.
However, they seem to have impressed Dylan Sharkey, LinkedIn’s former Head of Sales Solutions for the Middle East and North Africa, who says in a press release:
“What attracted me was the strong management team that has executed successfully on multiple ventures, combined with the technical genius and vision of the CTO Andrius Mačys.
On top of this, the tremendous business opportunity to disrupt the Global ISP market using blockchain powered technology proved frankly irresistible.”
It might be if they can actually execute on it. Because with no track record on this specific endeavor, whether they can deliver remains very much an open question.
Moreover, bootstrapping a global network might not be easy. Not least because the method of payment, whether blockchain based or otherwise, may be the least of their concern.
Why anyone would bother to set-up a bandwidth access point is not addressed in the paper as far as we can see. Nor do they state what the costs might be for the bandwidth provider or the potential profits.
However, there are already companies that do provide a similar service, like FON as we mentioned earlier. Therefore there is clearly a market demand. But whether this specific project can satisfy it, remains to be seen.