Helium Network (HNT): Decentralizing Wireless Networks

For the construction of the world’s largest decentralized wireless network, a novel blockchain-based incentive model has been developed.


Helium is a blockchain network that uses a decentralized global network of Hotspots — devices that double as network miners and wireless access points — to provide long-range connectivity to the Internet of Things (IoT) devices in the short term, and in the long run, to connect anything to the internet via a decentralized wireless network like 5G.

Anyone can create a hotspot, which allows them to earn Helium’s native HNT coins in exchange for providing connectivity to devices. Wireless infrastructure can scale more quickly and at a tenth of the cost of existing approaches thanks to this decentralized, blockchain-based technology.


Introduction to the Helium Network

Helium is an open-source blockchain network that was launched in July 2019 to power Internet of Things (IoT) devices with wireless connectivity.

Individuals are incentivized to host Hotspots — nodes that simultaneously mine HNT for constructing and safeguarding the Network while giving connectivity to adjacent devices — in order to build a worldwide, pervasive wireless network.

Developers and businesses can now connect a new class of IoT devices that would otherwise be impossible to connect, such as remote wildfire or environmental sensors, smart pet collars, scooters, and bikes that can be tracked across any city, thanks to a growing network of Helium Hotspots around the world.

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A Network of Helium Hotspots

Hotspots are plug-and-play wireless devices that use Helium LongFi, a mix of the LoRaWAN wireless protocol and the Helium blockchain, to give connectivity 200 times farther than Wi-Fi.

Incentivizing anyone to deploy a Hotspot and earn HNT for creating the network and delivering device data at a tenth of the cost of cellular, Hotspots also operate as miners on the Helium blockchain.

To offer coverage for a full city, only 50-100 Hotspots are required. Third-party producers who have been approved by the Helium Community offer a variety of Helium Hotspots.

The rapid global growth of the Helium crypto community and the ecosystem of developers building applications to use the Network has resulted in a significant demand for Hotspots.

Why would someone choose the Helium Network over their current internet service provider? Helium is fully secured and provides ubiquitous internet connectivity at a tenth of the cost of standard cellular data because it is an intrinsically decentralized network. Users just pay for the data they use.

The Helium encryption protocol is also free of the limits and fees that a cellular provider might impose, such as data caps or overage penalties, and does not require users to purchase additional hardware such as a SIM card. To get started with the Helium Network, users only need to select any LoRaWAN-compatible sensor and utilize the Helium Console to onboard their devices.

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Helium Network’s Proof of Coverage 

Proof of Coverage (PoC) is a revolutionary work method that rewards users for checking coverage, hence establishing location and network connectivity.

The Helium Consensus System, which includes the HoneyBadgerBFT multi-party computing consensus protocol, is the foundation for Proof of Coverage. Participants use Hotspots to help create the Network and earn Helium mining rewards thanks to a unique incentive scheme based on the Helium blockchain.

The Helium Network uses radio wave technology instead of typical mining rigs like GPUs or ASICs to implement mining, making Hotspots far less energy-intensive than their traditional equivalents.

Hotspots are sometimes subjected to cryptographic tests to ensure that they are truly delivering radio coverage in a certain location and at a specific time. These exams are given to Hotspot operators at random and automatically, and passing them earns them HNT rewards.

Helium Hotspots can potentially generate HNT by sending data across the network from neighboring devices.

The more data you send, the more points you gain. Hotspots earn HNT in proportion to the value they add to the Helium crypto ecosystem by completing proof-of-concept challenges, acting as witnesses for peers’ performance, and transporting device data, with network data transfers accounting for the majority of HNT payouts.

Cryptoeconomics: HNT Coins and Data Credits

For providing coverage and sending data on the Network, hotspot operators earn HNT. There are around 90 million HNT coins in circulation as of June 2021, with a maximum supply of 223 million HNT.

The experiment began with no HNT in circulation and no pre-mine, with the goal of achieving a more uniform distribution of HNT throughout the market. Every minute, new Helium blocks are created, with HNT incentives paid every 30 blocks. The monthly coin emission rate for HNT started at five million HNT and has been halved every two years.

The monthly issue of HNT coins will be lowered to two and a half million HNT from August 1, 2021.

Data Credits are also crucial to the Helium Network’s cryptoeconomics. Users pay with Data Credits to use the Helium Network, and any device accessing the network must spend Data Credits to transfer its data to the internet. Data Credits have a set value, are tied to certain users, and are not transferable.

The value of one Data Credit is fixed at $0.00001 USD. Burning HNT coins produces Data Credits, maintaining a balance where, as the network grows and more devices utilize Data Credits, more HNT coins are burned.

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Future of Helium Network

Helium is developing a next-generation wireless network capable of connecting billions of suitable devices all over the planet.

The Network already has over 88,000 Helium Hotspots in more than 8,000 locations throughout the world as of July 2021 and will be introducing the second major wireless network, Helium 5G, in the next months.

Validators, which use a Proof-of-Stake architecture, were also recently released on the Helium blockchain to help protect and scale the network. Aside from Hotspot expansion, the Helium ecosystem is rapidly expanding and includes a variety of hardware and software options.

Hotspot makers, IoT businesses and applications, developers, staking providers, and others are all part of this developing ecosystem. D-Web Technologies, for example, is extending the Helium crypto ecosystem by deploying Hotspots and creating sensor solutions for top enterprises across industries.

The Helium Network is making remarkable progress in addressing the difficulty of IoT connectivity as the number of IoT devices grows at an exponential rate, and it serves as a model for future wireless infrastructure.