Introducing: The Helium Foundation
The Decentralized Wireless Alliance (DeWi) is expanding and uniting the community under a shared brand as the Helium Foundation.
The Helium Network launched in 2019 with the purpose of building a decentralized wireless network owned and operated by a community of users. In just over two years since the network’s launch, this community has built a global, people-powered, decentralized network with more than 680K Hotspots across 163 countries. The time has come for us to unite the community under a shared brand, and that is why we are proud to announce that the Decentralized Wireless Alliance (DeWi) will operate under a new name: The Helium Foundation.
The Helium Foundation, a 501(c)(6) non-profit, will significantly expand its existing stewardship role, while Helium Inc announced their new name, Nova Labs, to distinguish itself as a contributor to the Helium Network. This new chapter brings with it several exciting changes geared towards putting the Helium community front and center.
First, Helium Inc (hereafter, Nova Labs) has transferred its brand assets and intellectual property to the Helium Foundation. These assets will be held under the Foundation’s stewardship for the benefit of the global community. This is a tremendous win for the community and all projects building in and around the Helium Ecosystem. This allows the Helium name and brand to be used more openly under the umbrella of a non-profit association benefitting the wireless industry — thus, our new name.
The Nova Labs team will continue as highly devoted and aligned community members. As founders of the network, they remain focused on critical network infrastructure and blockchain development work. They will still be responsible for ongoing work with Proof-of-Coverage, Light Hotspots, and developments related to the most recent HIPs that have been published in the community. In the near term, Nova Labs will collaborate with the Foundation to share Helium news, partner announcements, and other educational content through social and community channels.
Second, the core technology and its repositories, including the Helium blockchain, miner, and Hotspot app source code will shift to be maintained by the Foundation. The core contributors at Nova Labs will continue to ensure progress marches on through this transition and will still be responsible for technical continuity and working to implement any code or chain variable changes that result from approved HIPs.
A very meaningful change is the further distribution of signing authority. To date, the issuance of chain-variables and rescue blocks has been a collaborative effort between the Foundation and the core contributors with the latter as the sole signer. This process will shift to include dual signing with representation from both Helium Foundation and Nova Labs. In time, additional organizations and individuals will become eligible signers with the demonstration of long term Network alignment and sufficient contributions to the Helium Blockchain Core codebase.
In preparation for this transition, the Foundation team has been growing over the last few months and will continue to expand its technical and community leadership. Joey Hiller, a 2021 grant recipient and familiar face in the community, came onboard in Q4 and is being elevated to Technical Director. Clarissa Redwine brings a background in connected hardware and joined us to grow our Grant Program. Evan Diewald, who was himself a grant recipient, shifted to full-time as the Foundation’s first Data Engineer and is focusing on PoC security, Network analytics, and improving our public analytics tools. We’re also thrilled to have recently welcomed Eda Akturk, who is splitting her time between community and developer relations. With the expanding team and increasing responsibility, the Foundation’s Board of Directors has asked me to step into Chief Operating Officer role as we continue to grow the team.
The Helium Foundation is taking on more responsibilities to scale, improve, and secure the Helium Network. We are adding resources to improve public tools such as the ETL and will run an instance of the LoRaWAN Console service targeted at non-commercial and trial use. Network governance will also see changes in the coming months. In addition to the Foundation’s role overseeing the HIP process and hosting monthly community calls, we’ll establish new, independent committees, similar to the existing Manufacturing Oversight Committee (MOC) to promote specialization and ensure stakeholder alignment. Look out for another blog post in the near future detailing those initiatives. We’re also continuing to push towards a more formalized governance model, and have plans to open up Foundation Board seats for general elections later this year. Each of these are important milestones to ensure the Helium Network remains credibly neutral.
This is a very exciting time for the Helium Network. The Grant Program continues to attract new teams and exciting projects including an additional explorer, wrapped Helium as an ERC-20, enabling multi-sig, further Network analysis, and more. The Helium Foundation funded $500K worth of grants in 2021 and we’ve already matched that amount in just the first few months of this year! We’re building relationships with influential groups in Washington to showcase the utility of the Helium Network and drive public-sector interest. There’s even more reason to be excited about the network’s future given the growing demand side. Leading LoRaWAN network providers have publicly announced roaming agreements, a major U.S. city is employing Helium for civic benefits with hints of more to come, and two large cellular networks have announced their intention to roam onto Helium as 5G. A lot has transpired in the last year, but we’re just getting warmed up and there’s a lot more excitement to come!
Visit our new home at http://helium.foundation
To learn more about this announcement, please read the FAQ below and join a live AMA on Discord Stages today, March 30th at 11AM PT / 2p ET with the Nova and Helium Foundation teams. Join Discord to participate.
What’s the purpose of a separate Foundation?
Helium is a public blockchain, meaning it is permissionless and decentralized in nature. All nodes have equal rights to access, create, and validate data.
The Helium Foundation (formerly the Decentralized Wireless Alliance) exists to manage the blockchain as an open, public utility, which means all the non-profit elements of the network.
What is the Helium Foundation’s role?
The Foundation, including the full-time team, grantees, advisors, and contractors support the following areas:
- Network Governance:
Provide independent governance from the original Helium Inc team to make changes to the Helium Blockchain. We do this through the support and management of the Helium Improvement Proposal (HIP) process as well as hosting monthly community calls.
Provide a check on technical and economic changes to the Network. In the near future we’ll be distributing this authority to various Committees of appointed and elected members from the community.
- Ecosystem Development:
Constantly pursue better security, stability, and scalability for the Network by deploying publicly available resources such as the Grant Program.
- Education and Advocacy:
Educate the public, regulators, and policy-makers on the value of decentralized wireless networks and how its adoption benefits the entire wireless industry and its beneficiaries.
What’s changing with the transition from DeWi to Helium Foundation?
- Our new name! Bigger team and more responsibilities including blockchain development, more public services, gradually taking on the management of all Helium Network communications.
- Evolving governance. Changes are coming to the HIP process that will create more efficiency and add clarity.
- New committees to distribute authority and continue maintaining a credibly neutral Network.
- New website! We’re starting simple today, but this will ultimately become a resource for exploring network governance, public tools, the grant program, technical documentation, and more.
- Increasing government relations — we’re building relationships at the Federal, State and City levels to drive public sector interest in the US, while developing a larger international presence.
- Rebooting the membership program — details will be available in April.
Who controls the Helium Blockchain?
This is a shared signing responsibility between the core contributors at Nova Labs and Helium Foundation, each with independent key management. It is our aim to add more signers who are long-term Helium Network supporters and have made significant contributions to the blockchain codebase.
How does the network benefit from the trademarks being held by the Helium Foundation?
Since the Helium Foundation is a 501(c)(6) trade association, rather than a corporation, it can take on members who have rights to use trademarks and branded logos under a shared set of conditions. Refreshed membership details will be available in April.