HELIUM : PEOPLE’S NETWORK
A Decentralised Wireless Network for the Internet of Things.
While the world has yet to fully grasp blockchain’s potential, one blockchain in particular has sparked a decentralised wireless revolution with a crypto-powered incentive model that allows users to set up a peer-to-peer (or decentralised wireless) network for ‘Internet of Things’ devices. Today, we’ll take a look at Helium and how it’s changing the peer-to-peer landscape.
Helium was not founded as a cryptocurrency or a blockchain company. It began operations in 2013 as a ‘long range, peer-to-peer wireless network’ by convincing users to set up hotspots and connect them. The founders decided in 2019 to allow users to create the network themselves and be compensated in cryptocurrency.
Helium has evolved into a blockchain network for IoT devices. The Helium mainnet allows low-powered wireless devices to communicate with one another. The network can also deliver data to all nodes, known as ‘Hotspots.’ Each hotspot incorporates a wireless gateway as well as a blockchain mining unit.
These hotspots cost around $300 and can transmit modest amounts of data over large distances via radio frequencies. These hotspots are 200x more powerful than traditional wifi hotspots and may share network bandwidth with adjacent devices such as parking metres, smart kitchen appliances, and air quality sensors that are connected to the internet.
All users who create these hotspots are rewarded for their participation in the network. Users mine and earn rewards in the Helium token (HNT), the native cryptocurrency of the blockchain.
WHAT MAKES HELIUM SO SPECIAL?
Helium intends to increase the wireless Internet of Things (IoT) devices’ communication capability. In 2013, IoT infrastructure was still in its infancy, but developers sought to add decentralisation to their offering, therefore the official literature referred to it as “The People’s Network.”
Its primary target audience will be device owners and IoT enthusiasts, with financial incentives providing additional outreach opportunities.
Participants in the network can buy or develop their own Hotspots, which are a combination of a wireless gateway and a miner. Each hotspot delivers network coverage within a specific radius while also mining HNT, Helium’s native token.
The Helium network is constructed on a blockchain infrastructure and uses a consensus system based on the HoneyBadgerBFT. It has the following features:
· Helium Hotspot: A low-cost hardware device that functions as a miner as well as a wireless access point for the Helium blockchain.
· Proof of Coverage: A mining process that verifies network coverage using radio waves.
· LongFi: Combines the Long-Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) wireless protocol with the Helium blockchain, allowing any LoRaWAN device to send data across the network.
IS HELIUM ACTUALLY BEING USED?
In terms of adoption, helium is making significant progress. DISH Network announced a partnership with Helium in October 2021 to “promote open source and low-cost wireless connection ecosystems” and to use Helium to deploy 5G. San Jose, California, has become the first city to join the Helium network and will utilise it to provide internet access to low-income inhabitants. For a test scheme, the city donated Helium routers to volunteers. With increased concern in the United States about the connectivity gap or information divide, Helium might potentially have a use-case outside of IoT by helping to bridge this gap. Helium can improve connectivity in underserved communities, whether they are low-income urban areas or rural ones.
The Helium network’s native cryptocurrency is the HNT coin, which is mined. It boosts the platform’s incentivization. The HNT token is trading at 24.4$ and has a market cap of 2.6 billion $ at the time of writing this article. HNT benefits are distributed according to a shifting growth plan, with node owners earning more for developing infrastructure and receiving greater rewards later for transporting device data. This correction process is expected to last for at least 20 years.
HNT has a current circulating quantity of 112 million coins and is one of the top 50 cryptocurrencies in terms of market capitalization.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT CIRCULATION OF HNT COINS?
Mining periods of 30 to 60 minutes are used to unlock prizes, which are provided in accordance with a shifting growth plan. According to Helium, node owners will earn more HNT at first for building the network infrastructure, but it will be more advantageous to transport device data later on. This token distribution adjustment method is planned to last for about 20 years.
There are 112,235,712.47 HNT in circulation as of the ending of February 2022.
INFRASTRUCTURE FOR TECHNOLOGY
PROOF OF COVERAGE
Proof of Coverage (PoC) is a Proof of Work (PoW) algorithm that employs radio waves to certify that Hotspots, provide usable wireless coverage.
The PoC Challenge, which asks routers to confirm the strength of their wireless coverage by decrypting and transmitting LongFi packets over the Helium network, is constantly testing Helium Hotspots on the Network.
Helium Hotspots earn HNT for participating in PoC Challenges by submitting valid coverage proofs and witnessing other Challenges as they occur.
HELIUM CONSENSUS PROTOCOL
Once per epoch, a new Consensus Group (CG) of 16 members is elected. All Helium Hotspots that are active in the Helium network are eligible to be elected to a CG. If a Hotspot performs well in the PoC Challenge, it is more likely to be elected.
Four new CG members will be elected in each election. The remaining 12 members were elected in the preceding CG election. A Hotspot can participate in up to four successive CGs after being chosen.
Poorly performing CG members will very certainly be removed from the CG before the 4 epoch limit is met.
After a new CG is elected, a Threshold Encryption Key (TPKE) is produced. The TPKE enables any Hotspot in the network to encrypt transactions to a master Public Key (PK), requiring the CG to collaborate in order to decrypt it. The TPKE is used to make the network censorship-resistant by making it harder for CG members to arbitrarily ignore or delay specific transactions.
PRODUCTS THAT ARE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE
HOTSPOT OF HELIUM
Helium’s Helium Hotspot is a LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) wireless router that it designed and distributes. The Helium Hotspot generates a long-range wireless network for routing packets to and from Helium-enabled devices, similar to other LoRaWAN-compatible devices in the network, and conducts continual mining chores to protect the Helium Network. You may get a map of all existing Helium Hotspots here.
CONSOLE FOR HELIUM
The Helium Console is a web-based device administration application that lets developers register, authenticate, and manage their Helium devices. The Helium Console also includes prebuilt connections for routing device data over HTTPs or MQTT, in addition to device control. The Helium Console’s product Device management capabilities include organisation structure with labels and user-level permissions. Registration of a device ID, safe onboarding, and authentication In the Helium network, Data Credits are used.
LongFi combines the LoRaWAN wireless protocol with the Helium blockchain, allowing any LoRaWAN device to connect to the Helium Network and send data.
The following are some of the features of LongFi:
1. LongFi allows a corporation to onboard as many devices as it needs without the need for additional configurations or third-party help.
2. Device roaming: Onboarded devices are assigned unique IDs that are kept on the blockchain, allowing them to transport data around the network using any Hotspot.
3. Earning HNT tokens: LongFi allows device owners to earn HNT tokens by transferring data across the network.
4. Support for LoRaWAN: Any LoRaWAN device or sensor can send data via the Helium network with very little configuration.
Helium Tabs are GPS trackers that are linked to the Helium network. Helium Tabs can track dogs, luggage, keys, and other items inside the Helium network’s service area.
IS HELIUM AN ENERGY-EFFICIENT?
While some have criticised Bitcoin and other proof-of-work assets for their high energy consumption, Helium stands out because its proof of coverage consensus (basically verifying that router are located where they claim and that they are running and providing coverage) uses much less energy about five watts to run, or about the same as an LED light bulb.
IS THERE A SIGNIFICANT RISK?
The most significant danger that I see for Helium is that internet service providers will stop their customers from accessing Helium hotspots since reselling their bandwidth may violate their terms of service. If Helium becomes widely available, ISPs may crack down on customers who take a piece of their pie by using their bandwidth.
PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE
The overall social media reaction toward Helium appears to be favourable. Members of the community are encouraged to demonstrate their mining rigs and methods in order to cover the greatest amount of ground feasible. The project’s subreddit provides a lot of useful information and is the site of many discussions about the hardware side and how earnings have changed in recent months.
Furthermore, there appears to be genuine excitement about how much money people can make based on their location. Some earn up to $50 a day, making it a good passive revenue stream. Others may earn less, depending on where they reside, the quality of their coverage, and the number of devices they connect.
There appears to be an increasing interest in Helium, since over 604,823 hotspots have been registered, with over 80 percent of them online. There are about 163,000 distinct hotspot owners spread throughout 162 countries, illustrating the project’s traction.
However, obtaining the necessary hardware to begin mining HNT as part of the Helium network may prove difficult. The community is scrambling to find gear, but it appears that all authorised vendors are out of stock.
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