The Helium Network..?
Helium Systems is a USA-based firm, founded in 2013, who were successful in creating the world’s first peer-to-peer LoRaWAN wireless IoT network. Labeled as “The people’s Network”, it includes a globally distributed network of specialized Hotspots that provide public coverage for LoRaWAN enabled IoT sensors and devices over long distances, with low power consumption. According to the Helium Network website, “it has already sold over 60,000 Helium Hotspots in over 2000+ cities”, delivering a friendly, aesthetic, and simple user interface. They have decentralized IoT coverage creating an open wireless network, compatible with multiple LoRa-enabled devices. This also helps combine various LoRaWAN gateways across the world in an efficient way.
What is LoRaWAN?
LoRa is a wireless signal modulation technique derived from Chirp Spectrum Technology (CST). CST is used to encode information onto Radio Waves using chirp pulses. Such transmissions are immune to Noise and can be sent across great distances. LoRa is ideal for the transmission of signals with smaller amounts of data with lower bit rates. Technologies like WiFi and Bluetooth are no match for LoRa when it comes to transmission over longer distances. LoRaWAN is a Media Access Control (MAC) layer built employing LoRa modulation. It is the user interface for the LoRa hardware. LoRaWAN devices are optimized to working in low energy consumption modes and can last for up to periods exceeding ten years on a single coin battery.
What is a Helium Hotspot?
The Helium Network is powered by compatible Hotspots, which is a combination of Helium Blockchain and the LoRaWAN packet routing software already installed onto it. This is done on a single, compact gateway providing miles of network coverage for millions of compatible devices in its radius. By deploying a simple device in their homes or offices, one can provide their city with miles of low-power network coverage for several devices and in turn earn a new cryptocurrency, the HNT.
Helium’s Network Token (HNT)
Helium’s HNT is a two-token system, with hosts (users with deployed hotspots) mining the cryptocurrency while the users pay a connection fee using data credits. This can be acquired via either burning HNT or via credit card payments. Hotspot owners also earn HNT to keep the gateway available for connectivity. HNTs can be in turn traded for data credits or converted to cash via a bitcoin exchange. Using a system called ‘proof of coverage’ LoRaWAN Gateways mine more HNT when they are in the range of other Helium compatible LoRaWAN gateways, but must be at least 300 meters apart.
Combining 5g, Blockchain, and cryptocurrency The Helium Network is on its way to introduce 5G cellular network offloading, providing 5G services to IoT devices and smartphones US Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS) band—a band that offers both licensed and open use mobile data access. Helium aims to utilize its HNT experience in developing a new tier of 5G connectivity that is enabled by the unique CBRS spectrum, 3550 MHz-3700 MHz. All Helium Hotspot owners will have the opportunity to earn Helium’s HNT, by offloading carrier cellular traffic to their 5G hotspots. These new FreedomFi gateways will be compatible with Helium’s existing open-source blockchain network.