A ‘provably neutral’ Blockchain Delivery Network (BDN), bloXroute is an analog to the early world wide web scaling solution Akamai, a Content Delivery Network (CDN). The network is designed to be a transport layer running underneath cryptocurrencies, serving as a protocol-, coin-, and blockchain-agnostic scaling solution. The project’s token, BLXR, is a capped supply security token conferring holders a pro-rata share of all service fees associated with the BDN’s use.
The project’s distinguished set of co-founders bring with them notable work histories and accomplishments particularly relevant to the endeavor. Emin Gün Sirer is a professor of computer science at Cornell University and invented the Falcon Relay Network, on which bloXroute is based— co-founder, CTO, and Ph.D. candidate Soumya Basu also attends Cornell and worked on Falcon previously. Aleksandar Kuzmanovic, the project’s chief architect, is a professor of computer science at Northwestern, whose accomplishments include co-founding Google’s Measurement Lab and developing DDOS countermeasures deployed by the Akamai CDN. Uri Klarman, the project’s CEO, is likewise from Northwestern, a Ph.D. candidate there conducting interdisciplinary network research.
B2B microtransactions require thousands of blocks per second in throughput. Blockchains currently have difficulties reaching 300 transactions per second (TPS). Such scalability challenges are a networking problem, in bloXroute’s view—block propagation time defines the window of opportunity for forks to occur and increased block sizes increase propagation times, to a point where forks occur at a higher rate than the blocks that resolve them.
A ‘provably neutral’ blockchain delivery network is bloXroute’s proposed solution to cryptocurrencies’ scaling problems, which the team claims will allow blockchains to achieve 1000s of TPS. Such throughputs are achieved by redesigning a traditional content delivery network (like Akamai) so to achieve the efficiencies found in such centralized systems, whilst removing the system’s power to censor transactions, which would compromise a blockchain’s decentralization of control, and creating no single point of failure.
As such, ensuring provable net neutrality is a significant design constraint for the project. Dr. Kuzmanovic, whose work on net neutrality merited an NSF CAREER award, articulates this central concept, which informs key design choices. The team argues that being provably net neutral, for a BDN, is a matter of the network instantiating the following set of properties:
- The network is incapable of censoring information based on blocks’ content. To eliminate the network's ability to censor blocks based on content, blocks are only propagated after being encrypted—the network cannot stop serving particular transactions.
- The network cannot censor nodes. To prevent the network from discriminating against individual nodes, the network is designed such that nodes need not propagate blocks directly to bloXroute, but can obscure a block’s origin by propagating it through a peer node.
- Nodes can continuously audit the network’s capacities and behavior, and can abandon or replace the network should it fail to realize the former properties. Nodes can audit bloXroute’s services by sending test-blocks to check if the network is blocking or stalling blocks arriving from a particular set of nodes.
- The network is available for use by all nodes and miners. The bloXroute’ team believes the use of its network will provide a substantial competitive advantage for nodes deploying it, so it has designed the network to be open to all miners and mining pools, such that late adopters are on equal footing with early adopters.
Besides design elements intended to make the network trustless in the above manner, the network also includes several mechanisms designed to improve transaction throughput and network efficiencies. Based initially on the Falcon Network, bloXroute’s enhancements include transaction caching, cut-through routing, and an optimized dynamic scale topology.
Transaction Caching. The bloXroute BDN reduces network redundancy through the use of transaction caching. The BDN can index transactions, utilizing such indexes when transmitting blocks such that each transaction can be replaced with a 4-byte internal ID. This allows the network to compress block size considerably, allowing blocks to either be propagated faster or at greater sizes.
Cut-Through Routing. The bloXroute BDN immediately streams data packets as they are received through dedicated network infrastructure, with blocks only validated after they are received by nodes through the network’s gateways, rather than transmitting and validating the block at each hop in block propagation. The team claims this technique allows the network to broadcast data 10-100x quicker.
Dynamic Scale Topology. The bloXroute network uses geographically dispersed servers so to send data more efficiently than the nodes comprising various blockchain networks, which are not typically connected so to optimize efficient data transmissions. A control plane allows the BDN to dynamically select the optimal relay peer based on network latencies and load.
bloXroute launched the initial version (V1.0) of the BDN in December 2019 and currently supports Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash with plans to extend this to several other networks including Ontology, Quorum, Metadium, and Conflux.
The BLXR token, a capped supply security token conferring holders a pro-rata share of all service fees associated with the blockchain delivery network’s use, is bloXroute’s current cryptoasset. Originally designed to confer ownership of bloXroute’s crypto-reserves, the team changed to a direct dividend model as of February 2019, with investors’ desires to manage their own crypto exposure cited as a factor motivating the change.
The team envisions blockchains as the primary BDN user, offering chains 100 TPS scaling for free, after which chains will be charged fees. Fees collected are denominated in the native tokens of blockchains employing bloXroute’s BDN, and BLXR token holders will collect a pro-rata share of such tokens for as long as they own the security token. BLXR ownership is transferable—transfer of BLXR ownership does not entail the transfer of previously collected dividends. A Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities is on file with the SEC and the project announced the completion of a Simple Agreement for Future Tokens (SAFT) in May 2019 that included participation from Pantera Capital and Fenbushi Capital among others, bringing bloXroute's total funding to over $10 million.