Theta Network is a user-powered decentralized video streaming network powered by its dedicated blockchain. Along with its THETA and TFUEL tokens, Theta Network is designed to encourage bandwidth sharing and incentivize users to participate in the ecosystem.
What is Theta Network?
Created in 2017 by startup Theta Labs, Theta Network positions itself as the leading video streaming network using blockchain technology. The solutions developed by Theta Network allow users to simultaneously watch video content and earn tokens for streaming the video to other users.
The Theta Network’s ecosystem operates like a sharing economy, where users can contribute their bandwidth and computing resources to keep the network running smoothly.
Theta Network’s solutions can be integrated with any streaming platform. This allows them to reduce their video delivery costs, deepen viewer engagement and generate additional revenue. Also, Theta-enabled platforms spend less funds to keep their infrastructure running smoothly, in addition to rewarding its users.
The platform that benefits the most from Theta Network is Theta.tv, which is entirely managed by the Theta Labs team. Formerly known as SLIVER.tv, it is incidentally the parent company of Theta Labs.
But what does the Theta blockchain really bring to the world of streaming? Let’s dive into how it works and for the benefit of its 2 tokens, the THETA and the TFUEL.
Logo of Theta Network (THETA)
The Theta Network Ecosystem
The Theta Network blockchain introduces three essential features for its operation.
Multi-layer Consensus Mechanism
The Theta network relies on a multi-layered consensus mechanism. Specifically, it is a modified Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) mechanism. This allows thousands of nodes to participate in the operation of the network while supporting more than 1,000 transactions per second.
The idea is to have a small set of nodes (10-30) form the validation committee and produce blocks as fast as possible. Then, thousands of other nodes control and finalize the chain generated by the small set of nodes.
A Gossip Protocol with Aggregated Signatures
Under this barbaric name hides the means for Theta Network to considerably reduce the complexity of the communication between the nodes and thus reach a consensus quickly.
In effect, each guardian node aggregates the partially aggregated signatures of all its neighbours and then forwards the aggregated signature to other neighbouring nodes. Thanks to the gossip protocol, a fraction of each node’s signature can reach the other nodes at an exponential rate.
In addition to improving scalability, signature aggregation helps reduce the size of messages between nodes, which also reduces communication overhead.
Off-chain pool for micropayments
Designed for streaming video, this system allows Theta Network users to benefit from an off-chain micropayment pool. For example, a user can create a pool comprising TFUEL tokens, and any other user can use it to make transactions, such as donations to a streamer.
By replacing on-chain transactions with off-chain transactions, this mechanism considerably improves the scalability of the Theta blockchain, as micropayments are managed by another entity.
Theta network nodes
The Theta network is maintained through decentralized nodes. These nodes are mainly replacing the centralized content delivery networks (Content Delivery Network or CDN) used by the streaming giants.
There are 3 types of nodes for the Theta network: “Validator Nodes”, “Guardian Nodes”, and “Edge Nodes”.
“Validators Nodes” are nodes owned by large companies such as Google, Binance or Samsung. These nodes ensure the creation of new blocks and their validation in the blockchain.
Part of Theta Network Validator Nodes
As of this writing, 14 validator nodes are active on the Theta network. Ultimately, the goal for Theta Network is to have around 30 validator nodes in order to maintain efficient block production and good network stability.
The “Guardian Nodes” are the nodes that make it possible to verify the conformity of the new blocks generated by the validating nodes. They also act as a control body for malicious or non-functional validator nodes. In order to operate a Guardian Node, you must have at least:
- From 1,000 THETA in staking;
- A download and upload rate of 5 Megabits per second;
- A 4-core processor;
- 8 GB of RAM.
The Guardians Nodes are remunerated thanks to the TFUEL generated during the creation of the blocks. This represents more than 250 million TFUEL per year. They are redistributed according to the number of THETA staked by the node. For example, if I stake 1 million THETA, and the global network has 300 million THETA staked, I, therefore, stake 0.33% of the global amount. So I will receive 0.33% of all rewards.
As for the Edge Nodes, these nodes allow video streams to be relayed on the Theta network and earn TFUEL in exchange. This allows streams to be broadcast entirely peer-to-peer while providing back-up to Theta.tv and other platforms using Theta Network.
For example, if I use Theta.tv in France and encounter delays, and the node on which I am connected is in Australia, then the routine may take a long time and cause losses. Whereas if the node is nearby, the response time will be much better. This principle is the same as that of a classic content delivery network but in a decentralized form.
An Edge Node can also act as a “cache node”. This means that if a user encounters delays on the platform or a drop in resolution, the node will download the information not downloaded by the viewer and then deliver it to him. The video player also has an intelligent system capable of fetching the cache of a nearby user in order to integrate it.
The client to install to be a node looks like this:
A new use case for the Edge Node has recently been added: the Edge Compute. This is an additional way to contribute to an ecosystem resource. In this case, we are assigned a task, and our node will complete it. This can be downloading a video, solving an equation or providing computing power.
In this example, we observe that the function assigned to us is “Folding@Home”. It is a medical research program on which we can allocate computing power which, since 2020, allocates part of its efforts to the identification of targets for a therapeutic antibody against Covid-19. So we can see that on February 8 at 4:20 p.m., we encoded a video whose hash is: 1c1bdd9945bdc56beddf5750, and we got 1.0005 TFUEL as a reward.
Here is an overview at the time of this writing (end of February 2021) of the network of nodes of the Theta blockchain. There are 14 validator nodes, 2,657 guardian nodes and 13,475 Edge Nodes spread over the globe:
What are THETA and TFUEL used for?
The Theta Token (THETA)
The first cryptocurrency in the ecosystem, the Theta Token (THETA), acts as the governance token of the Theta protocol. This is used by the different types of nodes, which must stake a certain amount to operate and contribute to the governance of the protocol.
Additionally, by operating a node, users earn TFUEL tokens in proportion to the number of THETA tokens deposited in staking. The maximum number of THETA is limited and has been set at 1 billion units.
Theta Fuel (TFUEL)
The TFUEL is the second cryptocurrency of the Theta Network ecosystem, allowing interaction with many elements. As its name suggests, the TFUEL allows operations to be performed on the blockchain, such as deployment or interaction with smart contracts. Just as Ether is for the Ethereum network, TFUEL can be considered as the “gas” of the Theta protocol.
The TFUEL serves in particular as a means of remuneration for the spectators of the Theta.tv platform according to their time spent on it.
The distribution occurs every minute of viewing, and the amount can increase if the viewer wants to share their excess download bandwidth with other viewers. The more shared bandwidth, the higher the rewards.
This other cryptocurrency is also used to remunerate the nodes of the network (Guardian nodes, Catching nodes and Validator nodes). Finally, TFUEL is also accepted as a means of payment in the “Tfuel Store” and can be used to make donations to streamers.
There were 5 billion TFUEL when the Theta blockchain was created, and the supply in circulation increases annually by a percentage set at the protocol level.
Team and Partners
According to the official website, the Theta Labs team consists of 17 people. Who are its founding members?
CEO and co-founder of Theta Labs, Mitch Liu, also co-founded Theta.tv, Gameview Studios and Tapjoy. He holds a master’s degree in engineering from MIT. He also completed an MBA at the prestigious Stanford University.
CTO and co-founder of Theta Labs, Jieyi Long, also co-founded Theta.tv. He has developed many patented technologies, which cover VR live streaming and instant replay for video games.
Product Manager at Theta Labs, Ryan Nichols previously worked for the Wechat app and co-founded a streaming app. He joined the team when Theta.tv was created.
Theta Labs and Theta Network have many partnerships. Of course, there are validating nodes such as Google, Binance, Blockchain.com and Samsung.
Here are some of the other partners in the project which do not operate nodes:
- Ultra: this video game distribution platform natively integrates Theta Network into its ecosystem;
- Chainlink: Decentralized Price Oracle Network Helps Theta Network Fight Fraudulent Video Ads;
- Samsung VR: Users can use Theta Network’s block explorer to seamlessly observe how video relay matches transactions;
- Lionsgate: this production studio’s entire catalog of films is integrated into Theta Network;
- CJ Hello: this subsidiary of a large South Korean group uses Theta Network to rebroadcast its videos on national television;
- LINE Blockchain: a subsidiary of the Japanese giant LINE, which offers a streaming application powered by Theta Network.
How to Buy THETA?
THETA is currently listed on more than 15 trading platforms, the best known of which are Binance, OKEx and Huobi. The easiest way to get THETA is still to go through Binance because of the high liquidity of its markets.
Explanations for buying THETA on Binance
- Register on Binance;
- You will receive an email containing a link to verify your account;
- Deposit funds on the platform;
- Click on the Market menu and search for the pair BTC/THETA or USDT/THETA depending on the funds you have;
- All you have to do is buy THETA for the amount of your choice;
- Congratulations, you are now in possession of THETA tokens.
The process is exactly the same for buying TFUEL, too.
How to Store your THETA?
Currently, it is possible to store their THETAs and TFUELs on the official Theta Network Wallet.
With this wallet, it is also possible to deploy new contracts on the Theta blockchain, as well as interact with other existing contracts.
Note that Ledger and Trezor manufacturers do not support THETA and TFUEL natively.
Theta Network Ratings & Reviews
You should know that Theta Network is open-source. With the ideas brought by THETA, one would expect that the leading platforms on the market will therefore take inspiration from this model in future improvements.
The Theta project provides useful and innovative ideas. It is part of the spirit of the times and poses a problem that will be more and more legitimate over the course of technological developments.
With an experienced team that has been able to conclude partnerships with giants like Google, Binance, Samsung and Blockchain.com, this supports the fact that what Theta Network offers can be promising.
Will centralized streaming hold up against the arrival of new technologies such as Theta Network? Although decentralization does not offer the same bandwidth as centralized data centers, we will find out as developments progress.
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