What is Helium Network (HNT)?6 min read

Helium is a new blockchain-based incentive model to build the world’s largest decentralized wireless network

Introduction to the helium network

Helium network was inaugurated in July 2019, and it is an open-source blockchain network. It was designed to power IoT (Internet of Things) machines with wireless connectivity. To build a global and ubiquitous wireless network, people are encouraged to host access points. These access points are nodes that simultaneously use HNTs to build and secure the network, connecting nearby devices.

With an ever-expanding network of helium access points worldwide, developers and businesses can cost-effectively connect a new class of otherwise impossible IoT devices, from remote wildfire detection to the environment to smart pet collars, scooters, and bicycles followed everywhere across the city.

A network of helium hotspots

HNT hotspots are plug-and-play wireless devices that offer 200 times more connectivity than Wi-Fi with Helium LongFi, combining the LoRaWAN wireless protocol and the HNT blockchain. Hotspots also act as HNT blockchain miners, encouraging anyone to deploy a hotspot and earn HNTs to build the network and transfer data from the device at a fraction of the cost compared to mobile devices. It only takes 50 to 100 access points to cover an entire city.

There are various helium access points available from third-party manufacturers that the helium community has approved. The demand for hotspots has been remarkably high, alongside the ecosystem of developers building apps to use the network and the instantaneous transnational growth of the Helium crypto community.

Why would anyone want to use HNT instead of the traditional ISP? Being an inherently decentralized network, Helium is fully encrypted and offers a high degree of security and all-pervasive internet access at an atom of the cost of traditional cellular data. Users pay only on the basis of actual data usage. Additionally, the Helium cryptographic protocol does not contain any restrictions or fees imposed by a mobile operator, such as data limits or overuse charges. It does not require its users to purchase additional hardware, such as a SIM card. To start using the HNT, the user simply has to choose any LoRaWAN compatible sensor and integrate their devices using the helium console.

Helium network Proof of Coverage (PoC)

helium poc

Helium Network uses Proof-of-Coverage(PoC), a new working algorithm that rewards users for coverage verification, thereby demonstrating network location and connectivity. The coverage test is based on the Helium Consensus Protocol, which incorporates the HoneyBadgerBFT multi-part consensus computation protocol.

Participants are implementing hotspots to participate in networking and earning rewards for helium mining through a new blockchain-based incentive model. Helium Grid mining is implemented using radio wave technology instead of traditional mining rigs, such as GPUs or ASICs. This makes hotspots much less power-hungry than their traditional counterparts.

Sometimes access points are cryptographically tested to show that they are providing radio coverage at a specific time and place. These tests are performed randomly and automatically, and by promoting them, you earn HNT rewards from a hotspot operator.

Helium access points can also obtain HNTs by transferring data from nearby devices over the network. The more data is transferred, the more rewards will be earned.

Hotspots earn in HNT in proportion to the value they bring to the Helium crypto ecosystem by responding to PoC challenges helping peer performance, and moving data from the device, with the highest volume of HNT rewards allocated for network data transfers.

Cryptoeconomics: Hnt Coins and Data Credits

Access point operators earn HNTs for network coverage and data transfer. As of June 2021, approximately a 90million HNT coins were in circulation, with a maximum supply of 223 million HNT. The project was initially started with zero HNTs in circulation and no pre-mines in order to create a more uniform distribution of HNTs over the market.

New helium blocks are produced every minute, with HNT rewards given out approximately every 30 blocks. The HNT coin issuance rate started at five million HNT per month and was halved every two years. As of August 1, 2021, the issuance of HNT coins was reduced to 2.5 million HNT per month.

Data credits are also essential for the crypto economy of the Helium network. Each Helium network device must spend data credits to upload its data to the Internet, and users pay with data credits to access the network. Data credits have a fixed value, are tied to individual users, and are not transferable. A data credit is defined as $0.00001. Data credits are beaten by burning HNT, achieving a balance in which as the network grows and more devices use data credits, more HNT coins are burned.

The future of the Helium Network

Helium is building a cutting-edge wireless network with the potential to connect billions of compatible devices around the world. As of July 2021, the network already hosted more than 88,000 helium access points in more than 8,000 cities around the world and will add the second-largest wireless network, 5G helium, in the coming months. Additionally, validators have just been launched on the helium blockchain, which uses a proof of stake model to secure and expand the network.

In addition to the growth of hotspots, the helium ecosystem is growing rapidly and includes a variety of hardware and software solutions. This growing community brings together hotspot manufacturers, IoT businesses and applications, developers, engagement service providers, and more. Helium Network also includes several startups, such as D-Web Technologies, which extend Helium’s crypto ecosystem by implementing hotspots and deploying sensor solutions for leading companies across industries.

HNT is making great strides in meeting the challenge of IoT connectivity as the number of IoT devices grows exponentially and serves as a blueprint for building the entire wireless infrastructure of the future.

Summary

Helium is a blockchain network that uses a decentralized global network of access points (devices that act as network miners and wireless access points) initially to provide long-distance connectivity for IoT devices and long-term connectivity to connect anything to the Internet via a decentralized wireless network, such as 5G. Anyone can deploy hotspots and allow people to get native HNT coins in exchange for connected devices. This decentralized blockchain-based approach allows wireless infrastructure to grow faster and at a fraction of the cost of traditional models.

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