If we define an ad-hoc network as follows:

"An ad hoc network is a network that is composed of individual devices communicating with each other directly." [1]

ad-hoc networks do not rely on routers or access points (as a point of failure) to avoid moving towards centralization. In case of using routers or access point, some kind of centralization is inherent.

With this definition of decentralization, can we implement an ad-hoc-like network between users connected by payment channels such that similar to ad-hoc network, they do not use any router to find and communicate each other?

Please note that I used term of ad-hoc-like network (instead of saying ad-hoc network) just to say that the target is removing any pre-existing infrastructure, such as routers from communications between users similar to an ad-hoc network.

[1] https://www.techopedia.com/definition/5868/ad-hoc-network

1 Answer 1


This is absolutely possible. The negotiation between the payment-channel participants can happen over the ad-hoc network.

However, each participant must still run a fully validating node at all times when he/she has an open channel-state, to be able to react to cheating counterparties. This validating full node may receive its updates over the ad-hoc network as well, but must be in consensus with the wider Bitcoin network.

If the ad-hoc network prevents Bitcoin nodes from connecting with other nodes outside of it, this will obviously be a problem.

  • Thanks. So, this may be an alternative to e.g. Lightning Network as a more decentralized network, where Lightning Network uses classical Internet routing relying on routers in which a kind of centralization is inherent.
    – Questioner
    Dec 14, 2018 at 11:35
  • I don't think anything in Lightning Network requires it to use "classical internet routing". You could use bluetooth or ad hoc wifi or sneakernet if you wish. And even using "classical internet" doesn't really make it any more centralized as long as it's hard for centralized parties to classify, let alone censor, the traffic.
    – Jannes
    Dec 14, 2018 at 13:00
  • @Jannes , But according to its website: (lightning.network) "it is possible to find a path across the network similar to routing packets on the internet" that means it is relied on routers that is less decentralized than ad-hoc network which does not rely on central access point such as a router :techopedia.com/definition/5868/ad-hoc-network
    – Questioner
    Dec 14, 2018 at 13:34
  • @Jannes , I think by dominating router operation it is possible to control the traffic.
    – Questioner
    Dec 14, 2018 at 13:42
  • 1
    Probably the BOLT specs. A new version came out just a few weeks ago. Probably on lightning.network somewhere. Or this older series: medium.com/@rusty_lightning/…
    – Jannes
    Dec 18, 2018 at 18:32

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