In August 2019, Helium creator and CEO Amir Haleem marveled at the audience’s enthusiastic response during the Helium launch party in Austin’s trendy La Condesa restaurant. The Helium Hotspots were available in Texas after months of marketing and advertising. Helium was no longer just vapor gas but a legitimate shipping product now.
As Amir spoke with the audience, he noticed that some were blockchain fans, some were experts in the Internet of Things (IoT), and still, others were just geeks who wanted to be a part of this pioneering experiment. These early adopters would create a vast wireless network using modest wireless gadgets in their offices and bedrooms rather than phone company towers. They can pay with blockchain-based Helium tokens in exchange.
IoT devices with LoRaWAN support can connect to Helium through a public, long-range wireless network. Hotspot miners generate and are reimbursed in HNT, the Helium blockchain’s native coin. The goal of Helium is to create an environment that fosters innovation by being an open-source, public, blockchain-based, decentralized wireless network The Helium network consists of hundreds of thousands of hotspots within the blockchain to connect to the world’s largest LoRaWAN network.
Helium’s original business plan was to build a massive wireless network similar to a cellular network, but for the world of low-cost, low-power, low-bandwidth sensors. Founders of the Internet of Things predicted tiny sensors would be implanted in a wide array of devices, including thermostats, fire alarms, kitchen appliances, inventory trackers, and even your dog, long before the Internet of Things even existed.
This hotspot miner would connect with other hotspots in their vicinity, similar to how repeaters increase a wireless signal within your home, forming a decentralized mesh network. Instead of centralized phone corporations’ cell towers, a network of volunteers would host small cell towers connected.
The concept of a decentralized network was gaining traction in Cuba, where locals are upset with the state-owned telecom company’s poor and overpriced internet service. As a result of the citizen initiative, a grassroots street network known as SNET was developed, which was hosted by many volunteers who set up and maintained their Wi-Fi networks from the comfort of their own homes or apartments. Helium brings new life to the concept, adding the benefits of blockchain and crypto world.
A Helium Hotspot, with a little hardware about the size of a smartphone, was the heart of this decentralized network, which used a new low-power, long-range protocol—developed a $500 consumer-oriented network node with a smartphone app that made setting up and configuring easy.
Hotspot coverage could suffer from dramatic disruptions due to location, material in buildings, and interference caused by radio waves making the decentralized network stable; it was crucial to maximize the range. For example, Helium may need about 150 Hotspots to cover San Francisco, as each could have an effective range of about two miles. The field, however, can reach as far as ten miles in rural areas.
A network for the Internet of Things (IoT) Devices
Expenses of operation
A sensor that connects to the Helium network costs just pennies per month instead of a sensor connected to the 3G network. Thousands of sensors in the network could install for pennies per month.
As anyone owning a Bluetooth headset can attest, Bluetooth sensors are only effective at short ranges. Connectivity is possible several miles away from the nearest Hotspot with the Helium network.
The Helium sensors could last several years in contrast to cellular chips.
Using Helium’s network meant that all communications would be encrypted end-to-end, so sensitive data could be transmitted securely. The data that was flowing through Hotspots scrambled so the ordinary users couldn’t read it.
The cost of a data plan in a centralized telecommunications company increases every year as the number of users increases. The company must increase infrastructure investments. As more Hotspot miner adds, Helium’s decentralized network will grow organically, causing costs to decline.
Helium’s business concept consisted of two aspects—miners with a gift of Helium tokens for their assistance in building and maintaining Helium’s network. The Helium company provide services to businesses interested in using the web (like Red Hat, which offers open-source Linux support). In a two-sided economy, Helium allowed people to build a network that firms could pay to use. The HN (Helium Network) owns by the owners of the Hotspots, not Helium. As a result, the firm made its network exclusively to give it away.