How Decentralized CDNs Can Transform the Digital Economy


The path to building a decentralized CDN foundation for a digital economy that thrives on real-time video-infused use cases is now in sight. As explained in a previous blog, highly granular distribution of cloud computing with newfound flexibility in cloud-based data management has set the stage for linking instantaneous computer processing with Red5’s Experience Delivery… Continue reading How Decentralized CDNs Can Transform the Digital Economy

The path to building a decentralized CDN foundation for a digital economy that thrives on real-time video-infused use cases is now in sight.

As explained in a previous blog, highly granular distribution of cloud computing with newfound flexibility in cloud-based data management has set the stage for linking instantaneous computer processing with Red5’s Experience Delivery Network (XDN) platform at the deepest edges of networks everywhere. This is critical to the new generation of ultra-low latency use cases enumerated in that blog.

In most XDN deployment scenarios, the end-to-end video streaming latencies registered over XDN infrastructure at any distance typically range between 200ms and 400ms when the user access link distances are measured in miles. But when XDN Edge Nodes are positioned immediately adjacent to end users for delivery over mobile or Wi-Fi links measuring a few hundred feet or less, latencies are cut to just a few tens of milliseconds, at most, and even less when distances traversed over the XDN are limited to a local area.

Now the question is, how long will it take to build out this new foundation for digital commerce?

It could go much faster than might have been expected not so long ago, thanks in part to the normalization of blockchain technology as an everyday facet of business operations worldwide. In addition, Red5 is helping to accelerate the timeline by developing miniaturized XDN Node configurations for energy-efficient integrations with 5G and other wireless access technologies.

Benefits to Business Operations Drive Soaring Rate of Blockchain Adoption

To envision what’s in store, let’s look at how blockchain technology can facilitate the engagement of massive numbers of households and businesses in the buildout of a next-generation, video-rich wireless infrastructure. Even by internet standards, the pace of blockchain adoption has been astonishing.

A recent report from MarketsandMarkets forecasts that the market for blockchain platforms and services, pegged at $4.9 billion in 2021, will increase at a 68.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to $67.4 billion by 2026. Three years ago, the research firm was projecting that the blockchain market wouldn’t top $1 billion until 2023.

According to researcher Blockdata, 81 of the top 100 public companies worldwide are now using blockchain technology, 65 of which have gone beyond the research stage to active use, and 11 of which are pursuing multiple blockchain strategies for different aspects of their businesses. PwC predicts that by 2025 a majority of businesses worldwide will be using blockchain and that by 2030 blockchain applications will be contributing $1.76 trillion to the global economy, representing 1.4% of projected GDP.

While the early excitement about blockchain technology was driven by its support for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as alternatives to financing transactions through traditional currencies, it’s the practical money-saving ramifications of the core concept of digital ledger technology (DLT) that’s driving the adoption of blockchains as a routine way of doing business. The use of cryptocurrencies is intrinsic to most blockchain ecosystems involving monetary payment settlements as part of DLT operations, although means have been devised for DLT registration of payments executed through traditional currencies, credit cards, and other instruments.

The dominant player in this arena is Circle, which operates the USD Coin digital currency reserve in support of one-stop processing of payments across traditional and blockchain payment platforms or “rails.” In addition, there’s a growing number of blockchain marketplaces where payments are registered as credits for services in lieu of any monetary exchanges.

Flexibility Underlies Blockchain’s Multi-Industry Penetration

The ability to exploit automated electronic processing to conduct business securely across complex supply chains is a game changer of historic proportions. Blockchain gets its name from the fact that transactions registered in a DLT chain of participating parties are digitally recorded and verified in blocks of information that expand with ongoing transactions over time but can never be altered. Everyone in a blockchain ecosystem has access to the same common system of record.

The verification process that validates consummation of transactions operates independently, eliminating ownership of the data by any one party as well as any need for individual parties to establish methods of ensuring trust between them with each engagement. This makes it easy for the chain to scale in size, complexity and value while saving all participants time and money in contract administration.

Blockchains have sprung up across just about every industry, starting with finance and extending to manufacturing, retail, healthcare, media and entertainment, government services, Internet of Things (IoT) operations, and much else. There are many types of DLT platforms serving as foundations for these blockchains, including long-standing players like the Linux open-source Hyperledger Fabric and the proprietary Ethereum DLTs, and newer entrants offering unique benefits like Hedera, Solana, and Tezos, all of which are open-source platforms publicly available for use in any business scenario.

For example, Hedera supports results similar to those of older, more ubiquitously used public blockchains but in ways meant to be faster, more energy efficient, stable and secure, with fairer outcomes at lower costs.  Solana, which also supports non-fungible tokens (NFTs), stresses speed and affordability. Tezos touts speed, scalability, and upgradeability.

DLT platforms can be tweaked to fit all kinds of purposes ranging from setting common approaches to digital identity with asset management and tracking to establishing smart contract systems and payment methods; managing regulatory compliance and auditing; supporting distributed storage systems; enabling cryptocurrency payments with consumer products and services; and building out physical network infrastructures.

A key factor in the proliferation of blockchain use cases has been the operational consistency and decentralized governance maintained through Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs). These are aggregations of entities participating in blockchains governed by rules and organizational logic maintained under smart contracts, the terms of which are set through majority vote of all stakeholders rather than through the decisions of a central authority.

Whatever the rules governing the use of cryptocurrencies might be, the actual valuation of those assets is always determined by free market forces of supply and demand. Originally blockchain assets like Bitcoin were formulated in accord with the stored-value approach to setting exchange rates, which reflects the cryptocurrency’s fluctuating value across all transactions. More recently, in contrast to these “independent stores of value,” valuations have been tied to so-called utility tokens, which are proprietary modes of payment pegged to specific types of blockchains.

For example, Filecoin is a cryptocurrency and digital payment system used with blockchain support for cooperative digital storage and data retrieval. The blockchain enables users to be compensated in the cryptocurrency for allowing unused hard drive capacity to be used in a distributed storage ecosystem where every participant has custodial control over their own securely stored data.

More complex versions of utility token-based cryptocurrencies are designed to support compensation in service credits as optional alternatives to or in lieu of monetary compensation. For example, the burn-and-mint-equilibrium (BME) model employs a two-token system that provides proprietary payment tokens in cryptocurrencies that can either be exchanged for dollars or other traditional currencies on crypto exchanges or “burned” in exchange for some type of service credit.

Blockchain Has Become a Force in Network Buildouts

When it comes to using blockchains to support the buildout of network infrastructures, a major proof of concept can be found in the virtually overnight success of Helium uses the BME model to generate individual home and business owners’ participation in the construction of wireless low-power wide area networks (LPWANs).

Such networks use small slices of spectrum to support the extremely low bandwidth transmissions required for managing cloud-based IoT applications across large service areas. LPWANs, the majority of which rely on the Long-Range WAN (LoRaWAN) spread-spectrum protocol, now support over 70% of all IoT device connections worldwide, according to IoT Analytics. LoRaWANs, initially used for gas and electric utility meter reading and maintenance, have penetrated multiple IoT sectors, including smart cities and buildings, environmental monitoring, home and business security, industrial production and manufacturing, agricultural operations, supply chain asset management, and healthcare.

With the purchase of Helium’s or other suppliers’ Helium-compatible LPWAN hot spot modules, people can join the blockchain to earn Helium Network Tokens (HTNs) The tokens can be traded on crypto exchanges or taken off the market in exchange for credits worth free time on the network to carry data to and from any IoT devices under the blockchain participants’ control. In the latter case, entities that need to connect large numbers of IoT locations for a specific application can minimize costs of network usage when the hot spots they mount are used to support other entities’ IoT operations.

The strategy has sparked rapid penetration of the Helium Network, which Helium says jumped from 7,000 hotspot deployments in 2020 to 175,000 across 123 countries in 2021, with another 500,000 hotspots in backorder as of September 2021. Over 50 manufacturers are now producing hotspots for the network, which saw HNT valuation soar from a few cents in 2020 to as high as $54.88 in November 2021, according to CoinGecko

Now Helium is applying the strategy to support a highly distributed network of 5G small cells deployed by buyers of gateways designed for DIY installation by FreedomFi. The gateways support both 5G traffic operating in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum band and any traffic coming in over Helium’s LPWAN networks.

The appliances will mine HNTs for compensation to owners based on 5G traffic loads processed for participating MNO partners as well as for traffic serving the many LPWAN partners’ operations. Helium says it is in partnership discussions with MNOs as well as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) with initial commitments from GigSky, a provider of private mobile networks for enterprises, and DISH, the satellite operator that has embarked on a four-year nationwide 5G network built-out.

The Multi-Pronged XDN Buildout Strategy

The fast-moving developments in blockchain and edge processing have set the stage for Red5 to introduce a rapid buildout strategy aimed at instantiating the real-time interactive XDN streaming infrastructure at the premises of consumers and businesses everywhere. A blockchain DAO established for this purpose would enable participating partners to deploy XDN Nodes and begin earning money right away from tokens generated by traffic passing through those nodes without going through cumbersome contractual and reporting procedures.

Red5 is moving on several fronts to make this happen with an early working prototype of the blockchain-agnostic framework running on Ethereum. At the same time, we’re actively exploring other more cost effective and energy efficient DLTs like Hedera.

Along with steps toward setting up the blockchain marketplace, the company is exploring partnerships with suppliers of microprocessors, miniaturized edge systems, and distributed cloud storage platforms. These partnerships will facilitate the creation of gateways that would incorporate both the Origin and Edge Node functions for, respectively, ingesting and offloading XDN traffic and the components essential to executing the immediate processing and storage functions required by the use cases enumerated in the previously cited blog on edge strategies.

At the same time, Red5 has initiated internal technology development in support of several breakthrough innovations. These will enable decentralized real-time network and blockchain operations at unprecedented levels of energy efficiency in miniaturized edge enclosures that blend unobtrusively with existing building surfaces and landscapes.

One aspect of these efforts has to do with maximizing the compactness of the XDN edge components. As explained in the previous blog, XDN Nodes are hierarchically arranged with Origin Nodes serving as ingest points for all traffic entering the XDN, Relay Nodes serving as needed to assist with efficient routing of ingested traffic, and Edge Nodes, which are the points of connectivity between the cloud infrastructure and the fixed and mobile links serving end users.

Traditionally, each server in a cloud facility that has been designated to serve as an XDN Node persistently serves in the assigned role. If it becomes necessary to accommodate incoming traffic with an Origin Node at a datacenter location occupied by an Edge Node, the Origin is spun up on a separate appliance.

In the new decentralized XDN configuration, the component in the edge housing serving as an XDN Node will play both roles, though not simultaneously for a given stream. In other words, when the component is acting as an Edge Node streaming live A/V and associated content to an end user, it will not be able to serve as an Origin Node for that stream, though it can do so for another stream. Of course, given that these XDN Nodes will be ubiquitously positioned across proximate locations, there will always be a Node in the vicinity that can be activated to fill the required role for any stream leaving or entering the XDN so that the most rigorous latency requirements are always satisfied.

This architectural flexibility, like every other aspect of XDN set-up configurations, traffic routing, and load balancing, is automatically orchestrated by the XDN Stream Manager. This is a universally deployed software layer that works in real time applying automated scaling mechanisms in response to fluctuations in traffic demand or the need to add new broadcasters and end users. Traffic routes across Nodes deployed in public cloud or private cloud facilities anywhere in the world are orchestrated to deliver real-time video experiences simultaneously to any number of clients at any distance.

Unparalleled Service Versatility at the Deep Edge

Intelligent processing performed in Edge Nodes greatly enhances the operational flexibility of XDNs. As noted in the previous blog, this includes support for selecting which of a group of adaptive bitrate (ABR) profiles associated with a given live-streamed program should be delivered to each end user based on access network conditions and device profile. As explained in other blogs, Edge Node intelligence can also be used to support applications such as dynamic interstitial ad insertion and real-time forensic watermarking.

In addition, XDN architecture enables synchronized real-time delivery of streams ancillary to primary content to each end user on a personalized basis from any number of sources in any direction over any distance. As noted in several blogs and this white paper, such capabilities are spawning a new generation of compelling services and applications, from mass distribution of live sports, esports and other events to interactive engagements across social media, game-playing platforms and the everyday collaborations of dispersed workforces.

Extending the power of XDN technology to decentralized points of intersection with intelligent processing devoted to instantaneous execution of AI and other functions intrinsic to the most latency-sensitive applications provides a way to localize the end-to-end distances traversed by online traffic, including payloads involving interactive video streaming for fast-action multiplayer gaming, VR, surveillance-aided responses to emergencies and anything else where latencies must be held to well under 50ms. All the XDN capabilities outlined here can be brought to bear with live-streamed content operating at these levels of latency.

Energy-Efficient Integration of XDN and Wireless Access Components

As another major step toward ensuring maximum participation of home and business owners in a blockchain-based decentralized XDN build-out strategy, Red5 is pursuing the development of a groundbreaking template for miniaturized servers that integrate 5G, Wi-Fi and other modes of wireless transmission with instantiations of XDN Nodes.

Critically, the servers are small enough to be deployable in tiled arrays matching the form factors of solar panels. This is making it possible for Red5 to engineer a sustainable-energy approach to supplying the power that will be needed to drive all the processing, including incremental location-based blockchain mining, that will be consumed with mass deployment of the decentralized XDN-enabled wireless infrastructure.

Among the advances incorporated into the Red5 Pro design are processes through which the servers can rely on electricity generated from solar panels as their primary power source with seamless backup from traditional utility-generated power as needed. This will combine the money-saving and ecological benefits of installing solar power with the revenue-generating opportunities of blockchain participation into a powerful incentive behind mass engagement in the construction of a network that meets all the requirements of next-generation infrastructure.

In the months ahead, Red5 will be sharing more details about this blockchain-based energy-efficient approach to bringing the long-discussed potential of real-time wireless networking to life. To learn more about XDN technology and this next chapter in network evolution contact or schedule a call.