Bridging the Gap with World Mobile COO Alan Omnet
Jessica: It’s time to bridge the gap with me, Jessica Walker. Joining me I have World Mobile CCC Alan Omnet. Alan, thank you so much for joining me today.
Alan: It’s a pleasure!
Jessica: I’m really fascinated by World Mobile, and we’ve chatted to a lot of the team. I’d love to hear some of your background and how you came into the telecom industry.
Alan: So, I left University from a course doing business and computer science in London and at the time it was when the telecoms industry was being liberalised, so it was a duopoly between BT and Mercury. There was no competition and there was no innovation. I joined a start-up, and we took off the shelf equipment; we took PCs and some software, and we wrote a switch. Before we knew it we were competing with BT. It was very innovative, and we managed to grow a service that was being used by the travel industry and corporates, people like American Express, Virgin and many others.
“And we found that legacy operators were stuck with existing infrastructure. So by coming in and changing the mould, we found that we could compete.”
And that was my first experience in telecoms! It was all really good fun; great teams, really exciting. Then, for the last 20 years I’ve been involved in many different parts of telecoms, from writing software for switches to building mobile services and deploying equipment across the world. Generally seeing what you can do with technology; how it can transform things.
Jessica: And that’s fascinating. Because by wearing these different hats in different areas of telecoms, you’ve probably been able to identify some positives but also things that need to be adjusted or improved? Which brings us to today and the work that you’ve done with Micky! So, talk us through the inception of World Mobile.
Alan: I’ve worked with Micky in the telecoms industry for probably six or seven years. Around that time, I first came across Bitcoin and blockchain and what it was doing and I delved into the realms of crypto and blockchain technology. Over the years, I attended many crypto events, joined the community, and then had a look at what telecoms were doing with blockchain. People like IBM and Deloitte had come out with papers about how it can be used to fix the telecoms industry and solve some forward issues or billing issues or build some number ranges, and what we found is that they were missing the point! I mean blockchain is a game-changer but telecoms operators were looking at it and seeing how to fit it into the current operation. I thought, hang on, you’ve got to re-architect the whole business because this is a foundational layer. So for me coming into blockchain, into telecoms, I found that you’ve got to start from those foundations and build something on top of that. When I was talking to Micky about this, we reached the same conclusion;
“it’s not just about adding blockchain in, it’s about how you can rebuild a whole industry and solve the problems that are inherent in that industry.”
There’s 1000 mobile operators, big tech companies, that are trying to solve this problem of bridging the digital divide, but it hasn’t happened. There’s still half of the people not connected. What we found is that really, you need to come up with a new model. For us, it was about the sharing economy, along with some other solutions, and when you put those together, then you can build something really new and exciting. That’s when we came together with our ideas and formulated the plan for how we could go about this. It’s been really exciting and great ever since.
Jessica: And you’ve put that plan into practice! How was the White Paper actually put onto paper, and when you were looking to get more people on board and really share the concept, what was the feedback?
“What we do find quite incredible when we talk to people about the plan, is how many people want to join the mission.”
What we’ve got in terms of the team, we’ve been so lucky, so fortunate, that people want to help, they want to solve this problem, and we’re talking about people who have been in the industry for a long time. People who have provided finance to mobile operators, people who have installed solar energy to farmers, people who have been a great innovation in creating free space optics and new technologies, solar powered drones; we’re all working towards the same goal.
“So what we find is that when we talk about what we’re doing, and the mission, I think they find that they want to be part of it, they want to be part of the change, they want to see the change, they want to see this make the difference that other operators haven’t done today. That’s how the team has come together.”
In terms of the White Paper, well, I’ve seen a lot of White Papers and a lot of them are just glossy, marketing brochures about some part of the technology. But for us, it was about distilling the problem, taking the complexity out but actually addressing the solution. The Bitcoin White Paper was beautiful, it’s not huge, but it describes very succinctly how you solve that particular problem. For our White Paper, it was about how do you solve this problem where you provide the sharing economy to create a new telecommunications infrastructure.
Jessica: Amazing. So people watching who want to get involved with World Mobile, what process do they have to undergo?
Alan: Anybody can help out with World Mobile. And there are so many ways that you can help out. Firstly, join the community. We have many social media channels where you can get involved whether it’s designing some graphics, helping translate some materials, or telling people about the service. So you’ve got the community side of it, then if you want to run part of the network, for the Earth Nodes, you may need some technical abilities to install the software to run an Earth Node, but you can do that from anywhere in the world, so it’s pretty open globally to help on that front. Then if you want to provide the connectivity, you move onto the Air Nodes.
If you want to set up an Air Node, where we’re deploying infrastructure, then that’s open for businesses, communities, people who have a passion for what we’re doing, to get involved and install an Air Node, and provide that connectivity.
“Providing this connectivity and providing the Earth Node, you’re going to earn from it, so you’re going to be rewarded for doing that and becoming part of this new sharing economy.”
Jessica: I want to identify for our viewers; what IS staking, and how does the staking process with World Mobile work?
Alan: First of all, let’s look at Proof of Stake (PoS). So the Proof of Stake consensus was conceptualised in 2012, I believe, so the first White Paper. And it was aimed to address the power consumption issue of Proof of Work (PoW), which we all hear about today, and people are talking about consumption issues, so, Proof of Stake was formulated to resolve one of these key problems. What it is, is a consensus mechanism, so it allows a network of nodes to reach an agreement, a consensus on a truth. So to have a decentralised distributed network where the independent people, there’s no centralised body, the trust comes from reaching that consensus, but we all agree to what is a valid transaction on the network. So that’s where the Proof of Stake comes in.
What does it mean about having a stake is that I need to take a number of tokens, and I need to stake them into the network. If I am an honest participant, I’ll be rewarded, and if I’m not an honest participant, then the potential is that I’ll lose part of or all of my stake in the network. So it helps to provide that honesty in the network. That’s kind of what staking is, hopefully that answers the question.
And then if we move onto how we’re using it on our network, there’s the blockchain operations, you’re rewarded for running the nodes and validating transactions. But in addition to that, you earn additional rewards for providing other services; communication services, network services, on top of the blockchain operations.
Jessica: And it’s absolutely fascinating, the ripple effect that World Mobile will have, and also how it will change lives, so I’m really excited to hear your vision for the next two to three years with World Mobile. How do you see it evolving and impacting local economies and local regions?
Alan: I can’t wait to see it; it’s going to be a great journey. The mission is about bridging the digital divide. To do that, we have to go the extra mile. Many tech companies - thousands of operators - have tried to solve this problem. If we can successfully deliver the sharing economy for this industry, then we can see that change happening. But who is going to make it happen? It’s you; it’s people who run the nodes, it’s the community, together we’re going to make it happen and make the change. So you ask the question of where I see World Mobile in two or three years; I’m just really excited to see what people are going to do and how people are going to use this technology. The sharing economy enables multiple, simultaneous rollouts and deployments in multiple countries at the same time.
“So I can see this going very fast, very wide, I can see explosive growth, but it does come down to everybody getting involved and helping to make it happen.”
Jessica: And we’ll have to do some more follow up interviews with yourself and people like Micky, just to watch these developments as they unfold. Alan, thank you so much for your time today. It was a pleasure to hear more, and I’m looking forward to seeing any updates.
Alan: It’s been a pleasure, thanks very much.
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