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Introduction & Overview of the Helium Network
The Helium Network extends cost-effective wireless connections to individuals and devices across the globe. Over four years, it has inspired the inception of new connected applications, lowered operational costs for companies, amplified the reach of existing networks, and beyond. The Helium Foundation is a key part of the decentralized Helium Network, helping it grow and mature responsibly by overseeing the builders and users of the ecosystem.
Tokens, Credits, and Incentives
- Helium Network Token (HNT)
The token infrastructure of the Helium Network is designed to support its growth and ensure sustainability. The primary token, HNT, is instrumental in facilitating essential data transfers through Data Credits.
The Helium Network Token (HNT) serves as the native cryptocurrency for the Helium Network. It is unique in its capability to be burned to produce Data Credits, which are essential for transmitting device data and possess a consistent value in USD. Other subnetwork tokens, such as IoT and MOBILE, derive their value from HNT as they can be redeemed for it. To utilize the network, HNT must be burned.
There hasn’t been any pre-mining of HNT, and it has a capped supply of 213.23 million HNT.
2. What are Data Credits (DC)?
Data Credits (DC) are the sole accepted payment for transmitting data across The People’s Network. Each Data Credit has a fixed price of $0.00001 USD. Analogous to prepaid cell phone minutes, Data Credits are non-transferable and can only be spent by their holder.
3. Incentives in the Helium Ecosystem
In the Helium ecosystem, there are various subnetworks. However, each of these subnetworks has the autonomy to perform different types of work, offer distinct services, and set its own rates for users wanting to access and utilize its services. To put this into perspective:
— The IoT network charges users at a rate of 1 Data Credit (DC) for every 24-byte packet of data they send or receive.
— On the other hand, the MOBILE network has a different pricing model. It charges users the equivalent of $0.50 for every gigabyte (GB) of data used.
Now, there’s a reward mechanism in place for these subnetworks. The more data that’s transferred on a subnetwork, and consequently, the more DC that gets “burned” or used up, the more Helium Tokens (HNT) the treasury of that subnetwork earns. This creates an incentive for the subnetworks to facilitate more data transfers.
Helium IOT Network
The Helium IoT Network is a decentralized network designed to provide internet connectivity to “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices. Unlike traditional networks, Helium is built on a unique blend of blockchain technology and wireless protocols (LoRaWAN), offering a more expansive and inclusive connectivity solution for IoT devices.
How does Helium use the LoRaWAN protocol?
The Helium IoT Network embeds seamlessly with LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide-Area Network) protocol, which is particularly designed for IoT devices.
As illustrated in the infographic above, Helium Hotspots gather data from LPWAN Sensors (IoT devices) and then relay it to Helium LoRaWAN Network Servers. From there, the data is sent to the specific device application servers, which finally display it on data dashboards. These dashboards allow users to easily understand the performance of the various deployed sensors.
The use cases for Helium are limitless. Here are a few examples from the ecosystem:
1663: 1663™ provides customized end-to-end solutions that bring their clients’ IoT visions to life. The company is an IoT solutions provider managed by Nova Labs, the creators of the Helium Network.
DIMO: DIMO is a user-owned IoT platform that allows any driver to collect and use their vehicle data with a growing network of apps and partners. DIMO Macaron, the first-ever connected vehicle device on the Helium Network, is positioned to democratize access to automotive diagnostics tools and vehicle telematics.
Greenmetrics.ai: Based out of Portugal, they deploy environmental monitoring and flood detection sensors, addressing climate change concerns.
Damal Redes: Located in Valencia, Spain, specializes in placing sensors in homes to monitor energy usage and environmental factors such as air quality.
Lime Loop’s Sustainable Packaging: An innovation in packaging, Lime Loop integrates Helium and Sidewalk trackers with upcycled plastic mailers. These mailers have a 90% reduced carbon footprint compared to traditional packaging.
The IoT Network, supported by the IoT token, has collaborated with industry giants such as Deutsche Telekom and the LoRa Alliance, among others. The Helium IoT Network’s coverage is expansive, spanning over 77,000 towns and cities globally.
“By leveraging the Helium Network and LPWAN, we’ve achieved a 98% success rate in installing sensors in low-income residences and construction sites in Valencia, Spain,” said Jose Antonio Hernandez, the Technical Lead at DAMAL REDES. “This allows us to continuously monitor CO2 levels, weather patterns, and other crucial data. No other technology can match this capability.”
What are Hotspots?
Within each subnetwork, individual Hotspots play crucial roles. These Hotspots can be thought of as individual nodes or access points. The Hotspots that contribute the most in terms of coverage (Proof of Coverage or PoC) or in data transfers are given sub tokens as rewards. Owners of these sub tokens can swap them for Helium Tokens (HNT) by engaging in a transaction with their respective subnetwork’s treasury.
In summary, it’s a layered system of incentives and charges, designed to promote the growth and efficiency of the network, while also rewarding the most active and valuable participants.
Helium 5G Network
Helium Mobile, built by the Nova Labs team, utilizes the Helium 5G Network. Check out a quick video on how the Helium 5G network works here.
Helium Mobile, aims to provide coverage at a lower cost and reward users along the way. The Helium community recently celebrated a $5 unlimited plan in Miami and further expansion into Broward and Palm Beach counties, the launch of the Helium Mobile Hotspot, and the most recent announcement of phone bill pay through MOBILE rewards.
The network’s strategic partnerships, the consistent introduction of innovative solutions, and the contributions from its community members are evident markers of its strength. However, beyond mere metrics, it’s the real-world solutions, and the democratization of connectivity that truly underscore the value of the Helium ecosystem.
As the Helium Network continues to evolve, the Helium Foundation’s team would like to express our deep appreciation to our stakeholders, partners, visionaries, builders and users. The active participation of the community remains the lifeblood of the Helium Network, both now and into the future.
For those still considering the value and impact of the Helium Network, we invite you to our inaugural Member Call.
Join the Foundation and other Helium Network stakeholders for the first membership call on Thursday, October 26, 2023, at 12 PM ET. Add to your calendar
In the meantime, connect with the Helium Foundation, the developers supporting this project, and the global Helium community on Helium’s Community Discord.
*A special shout out to Moken Explorer, a dedicated community member in the ecosystem committed to maintaining network statistics, which helped us gather essential data for this article.*