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What is Helium Network?

Read 5 min
Key takeaways
— The Helium Network is a blockchain-powered by a decentralized global network of devices. It is designed with the intention of combatting connectivity issues that the traditional internet infrastructure faces.

— Helium network devices are called Hotspots and operate as both network miners and also points that distribute wireless connectivity.

— Helium network offers a more affordable, secure, and scalable solution to internet connectivity.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs just got a new base layer – internet connection. Like it or not, we all need access to the internet, and eagle-eyed service providers know that. But a new era of fair internet access is here – and it’s called Helium Network. Here, we explain.

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.

The limitations of the current internet infrastructure

So what is currently holding back our internet connection?

As it stands, the infrastructure for connectivity relies solely on cellular data network providers. There are a couple of limitations that come in here.

Big providers dominate

Firstly, it relies on a centralized system of service providers with a monopoly over the market. This means consumers are more or less bound to pay the price set by connection providers, with no real alternative. 

With this, it can be expensive to maintain seamless connectivity.

For example: If you are away from a WiFi spot and need to connect your phone’s internet to your computer to download something, you need to rely on mobile data. Using your mobile device as a hotspot becomes an expensive affair. 

Access is limited – and depends on profit

Secondly, the range in connectivity offered, even by the best providers, can be limited. Not every region has been set up to receive internet – and in some areas, doing this is technically very difficult. This makes internet connection completely inaccessible to some parts of the world, such as rural, mountainous or remote areas; developing an internet infrastructure is simply too costly and the decision is ultimately dictated by profits.

Most of the world’s population relies on the internet for work in some form or capacity; connectivity needs a bit of an upgrade for efficiency and affordability. 

The resolution: Universal internet connection

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.

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.

What makes 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. 

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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.

Knowledge is power


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