Why Helium Matters

By  Noah Washington August 22, 2023

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  • Helium's innovative, blockchain-driven approach provides a decentralized Internet of things (IoT) network, powered by its native cryptocurrency, HNT
  • Through decentralized hotspots, Helium offers cost-effective connectivity, bypassing the limitations and costs of legacy carrier networks
  • Beyond connectivity, Helium offers economic advantages by removing middlemen and enabling microtransactions
  • This can open totally new avenues for individual earnings while supporting the ethos of decentralization

Helium is an innovative, blockchain-driven approach provides a decentralized Internet of things (IoT) network, powered by its native cryptocurrency, HNT. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the connection of everyday objects and devices to the Internet, enabling them to collect and exchange data without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. It is growing at a breakneck pace, with analysts predicting there could be over 30 billion connected devices worldwide by 2025.

Helium's Decentralized Network

Enabling all these "smart" devices to communicate and access the internet requires infrastructure that is both widespread and energy efficient. This is where Helium comes in, Helium is an innovative startup that has developed a decentralized, cryptocurrency-fueled network that plans on accelerating the IoT transformation.

With cryptographic security and no centralized bottlenecks, Helium's network is not only expansive but also resilient to hacking attempts. The company further democratized the network by giving hotspot operators voting rights to participate in governance decisions.

Helium was founded in 2013 with the vision of creating a low-power wide-area network based on the LoRaWAN protocol. LoRaWAN is a low-power, long-range wireless communication protocol designed for IoT devices. The early strategy for Helium involved partnering with building owners to deploy gateway hotspots in major cities, financed through traditional means. But in 2017, Helium pivoted to a radically new approach: Incentivizing individuals to operate their own nodes.

Purpose of HNT Cryptocurrency

This is where Helium's native cryptocurrency, HNT, enters the picture. For the price of a hotspot (around $500), anyone can purchase and install a node in their home or office. In return, they earn HNT tokens based on how much data activity their node facilitates.

This decentralized model has proven tremendously successful. In 2021, Helium expanded its hotspot coverage by over 1000%, with over 400,000 nodes now deployed globally. This distributed network blankets cities and rural areas with wireless access, enabling IoT devices like scooter trackers, pet collars, utility meters, and more to connect and communicate.

Helium hotspot coverage across the globe. Source: Helium Explorer

With over $200 million in funding from top VC firms like Tiger Global and Andreessen Horowitz, the company also underwent a rebranding, operating under the name Nova Labs to reflect its widening ambitions. According to CEO Frank Mong, the goal is for Helium to become "the world's largest (Decentralized) wireless network" over the next decade.

Decentralization is The Buzzword

The fundamental principle behind decentralization is dispersing control, authority, and decision-making away from a single central entity. Rather than concentrating power in the hands of a select few, decentralization aims to distribute functions and responsibilities across multiple participants. This decentralization of power not only safeguards against systemic failures by eliminating single points of control but also empowers local communities and users by giving them greater autonomy.

For a network like Helium, which is built on a blockchain, embracing decentralization is critical. Helium is not governed by any central authority but rather is supported collectively by its community of users. From building out network coverage by deploying hotspots to making improvements through consensus-based governance, the Helium community plays an integral role.

The community's collective contributions enhance the network every day. By actively participating, Helium users also share in the rewards through mining tokens and providing wireless coverage. In essence, Helium belongs to its community. Through the power of decentralization, the network grows stronger with each new user.

The Downfall of Traditional Carrier Networks

For decades, major telecommunications companies have relied on centralized control of infrastructure to drive profits. But this closed model could face disruption from Helium's radically different approach.

Big carriers have traditionally built proprietary cell towers and charged high fees to access their networks. This walled-garden approach gave customers few options. Helium, however, is leveraging a crowdsourced model to build out wireless coverage.

While Helium's network is currently suited for simple devices and use cases, it provides a low-cost alternative to expensive cellular data plans. As Helium's peer-to-peer network expands, it could potentially meet more consumer connectivity needs. This poses a serious threat to the revenues of incumbent carriers like Verizon and AT&T.

The average American spends $50/month on wireless. Source: Reviews.org

By exposing consumers to a new paradigm for wireless connectivity, Helium demonstrates how decentralized networks can shake up the traditional telecom business model. This shift represents a transfer of power away from dominant centralized carriers towards a more open, democratic model of infrastructure ownership.

Helium's Future

Helium has a bold and ambitious roadmap for the future, with plans to dramatically expand its network coverage, integrate with other cutting-edge ecosystems, and revolutionize major industries. It is also focused on cultivating strategic collaborations with other decentralized networks and blockchain platforms. By building bridges between these complementary ecosystems, Helium can augment its capabilities and offer enhanced utility.

With these ambitious pillars guiding its progress, Helium is gearing up to scale new heights and usher in a more connected, decentralized future for all. The network's brightest days lie ahead as it strives to reshape the technological landscape.

Helium Network offers a groundbreaking new approach to connectivity that could redefine communication networks.. With a decentralized, community-driven model, Helium promises to make connectivity more accessible and empowering for all. In a time when many feel disconnected, Helium's vision for an open and participatory network aligns with our deepest needs - not just for technology, but for true human connection.