Jul 1, 2022

What is Helium?

What is Helium?

the main thing

  • Helium is a decentralized wireless network built using blockchain. Provides Internet access for various"smart" devices. Helium offers a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to traditional wireless networks, satellite equipment and mobile internet.
  • The Helium network consists of several hundred thousand devices around the world, which are wireless access points and are united in the "People's Network" (The People's Network).
  • The Internet network is integrated with the Helium blockchain andits native HNT cryptocurrency, which is necessary to pay network users for data transfer and to reward owners of access points. Some of The People's Network devices are also validator nodes.

Who created Helium?

Helium Systems is responsible for the project,founded in 2013 in San Francisco (USA) by Sean Fanning, Amir Halim and Sean Carey. The initial goal of the startup was to create a global decentralized network for various devices that could transmit various data and indicators to the operator. Thus, the founders of Helium largely anticipated the spread of the concept of the Internet of Things (Internet of Things, IoT).

Now the company is headed by Amir Halim, other founders have left the company. Another key employee is CTO Mark Niydam, who has worked in large IT companies for more than 25 years.

Since the founding of Helium Systems,several rounds of investments and raised funds for a total of about $365 million. The last investment round took place in early 2022, among its participants are Pantera Capital, FTX Ventures and Munich Re Ventures.

How does Helium work?

The network operates on the basis of special modems using Helium LongFi technology. It combines the LoRaWAN (Long Range wide-area network) wireless protocol with blockchain.

As of May 2022, The People's Networkincludes more than 820 thousand access points (one point - one modem), located in more than 62,000 cities and 173 countries. The network adds about 60,000 new outlets every month. Helium has the best coverage in urban agglomerations of the USA, as well as in European countries and in the east of China.

There is not enough bandwidth on the Helium network to watch videos or play games. However, it provides a reliable Internet channel for devices that regularly transmit small packets of data.

Helium customers are more than 60 companies that develop or actively use devices connected to the Internet. Here are some of the applications running in the Helium ecosystem:

  • Awair - devices for monitoring the composition and quality of air.
  • Barnacle - parcel trackers.
  • CareBand - smart bracelets for tracking the whereabouts of older people with dementia.
  • Kooler Smart - cooling room monitoring systems.
  • Enica - sensors for plumbing systems.
  • Bolero Wireless - devices for loading operations and logistics of commercial vehicles.

Networks can be used in a variety of ways.For example, in April 2022, it became known that the use of trackers connected to The People’s Network helped save a California entrepreneur on catching crabs.

Since 2021 Helium supports the standard5G wireless communications, a number of companies are developing projects in this direction. For example, Dish has deployed a 5G mobile network in the US based on The People's Network hotspots.

Helium LongFi provides roaming (transferdevice data from one access point to another) and supports microtransactions for fast payments. Customers only pay for the direct use of the network to transfer their data, with no subscription fees or the need to deploy gateways or network servers.

How does the Helium blockchain work?

The Helium blockchain was launched in the summer of 2019 and withused a unique Proof-of-Coverage (PoC) consensus algorithm, or "proof of coverage" since its launch. Access points on The People's Network are randomly assigned "calls" that require a response from nearby access points. This is to verify that the devices are physically located where they claim to be and provide Internet access.

In 2021, to reduce the load on pointsaccess blockchain Helium was transferred to a hybrid model with the addition of a Proof-of-Stake mechanism using the HoneyBadgerBFT consensus algorithm. Dedicated validator nodes have taken on the most costly tasks associated with storing copies of the blockchain and generating its new blocks.

It takes 60 to create each block in the Helium networkseconds. Every 30 blocks, a new era begins, and rewards are awarded to access point owners and validators. A group of several participants is randomly selected from the common pool of validators to reach consensus. The composition of the group is updated every era by 25%.

What is the HNT token for?

Helium (HNT) is the native cryptocurrency of the blockchain of the same name. The asset was released along with the launch of the main network of the project in July 2019.

The supply of HNT is limited to 223 million coins.Initially, the issuance rate was 5 million HNT per month, but since August 1, 2021, it has been halved to 2.5 million HNT per month. Going forward, the emission rate will be halved every two years, and all HNT will be mined in 2070.

HNT tokens have several use cases:

  • for staking;
  • to pay rewards to hotspot owners and validators;
  • to exchange users for Data Credits.

The latter are required to pay commissions foruse of The People's Network. Their price is fixed and amounts to $0.00001 for one "credit". You can buy Data Credits with fiat money or by burning HNT.

How to mine HNT?

To become a member of The People's Network,you need to purchase a modem that supports the Helium LongFi protocol, connect it to the Internet and connect it with other access points and client IoT devices. Depending on the model, the devices can be placed indoors or outdoors.

What is Helium?

What is Helium?

Since the launch of the mainnet, all access pointsare full Helium nodes and participate in network consensus. However, due to the increase in traffic, they began to become overloaded and disconnected from the network. In the spring of 2022, Helium introduced Light Hotspot technology. In fact, this is an analogue of a light client that can transfer data over The People’s Network, but does not participate in blockchain synchronization – this is what validators do. So far, Ligt Hotspot is being tested and has not been implemented in the main network protocol.

The official website of Helium provides a list of26 manufacturers and distributors from which you can purchase devices using the LoRaWAN protocol. The average cost of one "home" modem is several hundred dollars.

To ensure continuous coverage, Heliumoffers a set of incentives to create regions with a high density of hotspots. Access point owners' rewards can increase or decrease depending on various factors, such as the number of neighboring access points, the number of devices connected to the modem, or the amount of data transferred.

There are online calculators that help calculate the HNT mining income for the planned hotspot. Also, the profitability of a single point can be viewed in the Helium block explorer.

How else to earn HNT?

Large HNT holders can launchvalidator node of the Helium blockchain and receive rewards for their work. The minimum stake for a validator is 10,000 HNT (about $80,000 at the end of May 2022). You can take the coins back from the stake after about 5 months.

Ability to quickly launch validator nodes inHelium network provides Coinbase Cloud and a number of other cloud services. In May 2022, there were over 3,600 validator nodes in the Helium network, which collectively used over 36% of the HNT coins in circulation for staking. The effective rate of return for staking is 5.25% per annum. Reward payments to validators take place every “epoch”, i.e. once every 30 minutes.

How is Helium developing?

The developers of the project plan to focus ondevelopment of the 5G direction using blockchain in cooperation with FreedomFi. She, in particular, develops 5G stations with the ability to mine cryptocurrency. The minimum cost of one device is $1000.

Owners of these hybrid access points will be able toearn HNT by providing users with access to mobile communications and the Internet. The goal of the project is to create a global 5G network, which will belong not to one operator company, but to the users themselves. At launch, the Helium 5G network will only be available in select US cities.

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