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Sentinel: Decentralizing the VPN Industry

Sentinel is on a mission to bring universal access to the Internet by building low-cost, distributed, and fully decentralized Virtual Private Networks (dVPNs). VPNs allow Internet users to access parts of the Internet that may be restricted to them based on geographic location. They also provide an extra layer of security and anonymity when browsing the web, but centralized VPNs are prone to data leaks and hacks which creates a risk for their users. Sentinel’s resilient and decentralized architecture reduces this risk while offering full transparency and customizable bandwidth speeds.

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In the face of centralized VPN services intentionally hosting the data of their consumers and then being hacked, VPN providers must cultivate trust with their consumers. Just as how banks serve as an intermediary between two people, VPN services are a centralizing service between users and servers. Consumers have to trust that this product will protect their privacy. 

Sentinel’s goals are not just to build a decentralized VPN service, but an entire framework that developers can use to build decentralized VPN services for mainstream users. 

What is Sentinel?

At its core, Sentinel is a decentralized p2p bandwidth distribution network built on Tendermint and the Cosmos SDK. Sentinel gives anyone the ability to monetize their bandwidth by devoting it to the Sentinel network. The amount of bandwidth given and used by network participants is metered and confirmed by Sentinel’s set of validators. 

Sentinel has their own form of consensus called “Proof of Bandwidth” where the protocol ensures that there is enough bandwidth provision from the service provider for the user. This will also form a transparent record of quality of bandwidth service. This data will be used for slashing the provider if they have violated their service-level-agreement.

One of Sentinel’s most important features is the on-chain query. A connection between a user and the exit-node can be established without the requirements of connecting to an intermediate server. Users will be able to query all nodes that are available by reading data on transactions from a list of available servers. This query also means that users will only be communicating with the chain, and never servers.

Sentinel will also be employing a relay network to encrypt the user’s IP address through the network to the server. 

Proof of Bandwidth

The network has a proprietary form of consensus called Proof of Bandwidth. Because anyone can host a node with what space they have on their computer, it’s vital that the network be able to verify that a node has enough bandwidth to support the network. 

Currently, the process starts by requesting bandwidth signatures from the service provider and the service user. These bandwidth signatures are messages that consist of the bandwidth in the P2P connection within a pre-configured period of time. The service provider and the user each sign their messages with a private key, and then the messages are stored on the chain. If there is a discrepancy between the bandwidth claims from either signer, the network will close the connection.

DVPN Token

Sentinel’s native token is $DVPN. It will be used for governance and staking, it can also be a form of payment for VPN services and subscriptions. 

$DVPN will also be used as a work token. This means that token holders staking the token will be able to earn additional $DVPN as rewards from nodes who provide bandwidth to DVPN applications built on the Sentinel platform. 

A part of Cosmos’s Inter-Blockchain Communication means that as more developers build dVPNs on Sentinel, other token holders can use their favorite token to pay for a dVPN service. As Cosmos developers are connecting to other layer 1s, like Polkadot and Ethereum, users will be able to pay for services using an ERC-20 token, ATOM, or DOT.

We are currently running a validator on Sentinel. Check out our Sentinel landing page for more information.

Economics

Sentinel has a decreasing issuance schedule, and a fixed maximum token supply. That means that as rewards decrease, as time goes on, staking rewards will come from transaction fees on the network, opposed to the fixed issuance of tokens. The initial issuance (also known as inflation) rate is currently 49%. 

Sentinel is particularly aware of the risks associated with being an early stage network. The lower the number of tokens that are staked on the network, the higher a network will be is at risk for attacks. To combat this challenge, Sentinel is employing a couple of different strategies throughout the first couple of stages in the network. 

During the first period they will be using a halving-like model, where the issuance rate will decrease by 6% after each epoch. Epochs will be 6 months long. Sentinel will use this model until rewards = 13% annual rate. 

After reaching 13% APY, Sentinel will decrease issuance per block until the chain reaches the hard cap of 48 billion tokens. This is known as an exponentially decaying emission curve. The team is trusting that the halving model will have helped drive up the demand of the token and the network will have grown substantially larger by this time.

If you’re unfamiliar, halving is “an event or process that reduces the rate at which new coins are issued or created.” Halving is essentially the periodical reduction of block rewards. This process ensures a controlled and steady supply of the token. Bitcoin uses this process, where block rewards for mining are cut in half approximately every four years. This is good for Sentinel’s token price. The halving model will decrease issuance as demand for the token increases – driving up the price.

There will also be a tiered inflation rate – delegators who have locked up their token for longer amounts of time will receive higher rewards.

If you’re curious about the mathematics on how they’ve designed their token issuance curve, you can check out this blog post.

How Decisions are made on the Network

Sentinel is a Cosmos-based network, so, at least in the beginning, the protocol will follow the same framework as other Cosmos based chains. Validators will have voting power proportional to the amount of tokens that have been delegated to them. 

The Decentralized Web

Sentinel will benefit from Comos’s Inter-Blockchain Communication because Sentinel will be able to provide a private network or a dVPN layer for the entire Web 3 infrastructure. Soon we will be able to build dApps that are fully decentralized.

Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency have allowed us to freely exchange value between one another without having to trust a centralized authority, but that is just a piece of our Internet experience. Projects like Filecoin (decentralized storage), Akash (decentralized cloud computing), Handshake (decentralized Domain Name System), Livepeer (decentralized video transcoding), and Sentinel are (re)decentralizing the unique layers of our Internet infrastructure. Your entire Internet experience, not just value exchange, can be decentralized and fully controlled by you.



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