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The Edgeless Cloud and Flatnets

By December 26, 2019July 21st, 2020Postcards from the Edge



By Francis McInerney

Managing Director of North River Ventures

The math of Cloud Inflation says that, at some point, your smartphone becomes my server. So, forget everything you hear about edge servers harnessing the Cloud; the cloud has no edge.

There is absolutely no reason why each home in the world should not become a combination cell tower, data center and blockchain revenue engine scaling with Moore’s Law and the Memory-Density Curve.  When this happens, the Cloud loses its edge. Whence, the Edgeless Cloud.

Edgeless elements will be meshed together in topologically flat networks, or “Flatnets.”  These are virtualized, blockchain-fueled, wireless systems growing in power outside the existing telecommunications network.  Flatnets make the Cloud edgeless with no near, no far, no inside, no outside. And open a whole new set of revenue opportunities.  In short, Flatnets are the first end-to-end redesign of the telecommunications systems that connect us since Bell founded AT&T in 1877.

Instead of paying carriers for access every month, blockchain will allow users to make money from access and content on scalable, meshed data centers that they control.  Think of the Mississippi changing direction and flowing North to the Atlantic through the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Its entire ecosystem will be different.

Thus, in the process of becoming an edgeless, virtualized network, the Cloud dissolves all the phone, cable and cell companies worldwide, every company in their ecosystems and all their shareholders and employees.  Uber on steroids

Flatnets are the logical outcome of applying Moore’s Law and the Memory-Density Curve to the FCC’s 1976 Carterfone decision.  This ruling, which made it legal to connect third-party devices to the phone system, opened the market to customer-premises equipment.  Unshackled from Ma Bell, and with no restrictions on the processors and software that users could connect to the network, the power of user devices exploded.  By projecting those trends into the future, we could map with precision the day when network polarity would reverse— when there would be more computing, networking and storage outside the network than on it— and with it the network’s revenue streams.

We have seen the effects of these trends for years in Wi-Fi.  Because it is extremely capital-efficient, Wi-Fi has gobbled up large parts of the “App Delivery Membrane” and sucked all the growth out of cell nets.  Most cellular networks are in revenue decline. Capital-efficient flatnets in the Edgeless Cloud will eat up the rest.


In two steps, the first already taken and the second almost complete.

In the first step, we are already seeing companies deploy distributed data centers and sophisticated cloud provider services at cell towers, all connected on their own fiber backhaul.  When you realize that these clouds host the bulk of the world’s content, the impact of Flatnets hits home hard.

In the second step, we will attach meshed Flatnets to this structure.  A member of our FutureCreators program has just been granted a patent covering blockchain on all wireless devices.  Mississippi reversal-style, this will unleash huge new revenue flows for the owners of these tower-connected data centers and edge cloud services.


Francis McInerney, Managing Director at NRV,  has been building businesses since the 1980’s. He is the Business Model Sherpa for the Zettabyte era.