It’s undeniable that the internet and online connection has become critical. Currently, the digital population has more than 5 billion people connected to the internet across the world. However, while internet reliance has grown, there’s still a massive disparity in how the internet can be access across the world. The cost of connection can be so high in some parts of the world that internet connection is almost inaccessible.
Helium Network is a blockchain-based network that is aiming to solve that.
Defining Helium Network
Helium is a blockchain network that leverages a decentralized global network of devices (Hotspots) that are able to connect anything to the internet with more range at a much faster, cheaper rate.
Helium is built to provide long-range connectivity to Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The long-term goal of the network is to offer seamless, affordable connection to the entire world by using a decentralized wireless network.
Helium uses blockchain infrastructure to track and incentivize its hotspots internet devices to create a better, further-ranged internet. It does this by incentivizing individuals to host wireless Hotspots. These Hotspots are designed to create a ubiquitous network for users that is far cheaper than a commercial provider.
How does Helium Network work?
At its core, Helium is a network of Hotspots that are linked with a blockchain.
Helium Hotspots are wireless IoT devices that are able to provide connectivity up to 200 times further than WiFi. Depending on the region and requirements, it can take as few as 50 Hotspots to provide connectivity for an entire city.
Because it is a decentralized network, Helium is not only fully encrypted — making information that is passed along the network private — but it is also able to offer a level of security that a centralized company can’t. With Hotspots spread across the world, a single point of attack cannot take place against the network.
The reward for being a Helium Hotspot device
The Helium Network solves the connectivity problem for Internet of Things (IoT) devices through Hotspots which provide miles of wireless network coverage for IoT devices that use the network. The hotspot hosts are incentivized through its native token HNT.
What makes the Helium Network so valuable?
In short, Helium’s blockchain-based design is able to offer an advantage over traditional network connectivity in four distinct ways:
- It is much more secure than a centralized company,
- The Hotspots spread across a region make it more scalable for global connection,
- It runs at a fraction of the cost,
- Users are rewarded for their involvement in the system.
Helium is also a pretty incredible network because it’s aiming to build the next step in scalable wireless connectivity. With enough Hotspots, Helium has the potential to connect billions of IoT devices at a global scale, at a cost far more affordable than any centralized network would be able to offer.
Proof-of-coverage: Helium Network’s consensus protocol
What makes Helium truly unique is its consensus protocol.
Helium makes use of Proof of Coverage (PoC) built on top of its protocol. PoC is a work algorithm that grants users the reward for verifying coverage — a process necessary to prove location and connectivity.
Because of the PoC protocol, users who run a Hotspot are rewarded with Helium mining rewards in the form of the native token HNT. From time to time, Hotspots are randomly selected to prove that they are actually giving coverage to a particular place. Passing the test also earns the Hotspot HNT rewards. The HNT earnings are proportional to how much they are adding to the network.
These rewards are an incentive to run the Hotspots which power the network. Unlike GPUs and ASICs which are used to mine Bitcoin, Helium mining is much less energy-intensive because the mining makes use of radio wave technology.
The way the network is designed also means that when the community grows, rather than hitting road bumps related to scalability — the ecosystem thrives. This means more developers, more individuals with IoT devices, and more businesses can rely on ubiquitous connection as the network grows. This means the challenge of IoT connectivity can be met head-on as Helium serves as a roadmap for how all connectivity infrastructure can be built and scaled in the future.