Creating a decentralized wireless network for “internet of things” (IoT) devices, that is the goal of the blockchain and the Helium token . It is a revolutionary proposal to create an alternative telecommunications infrastructure made up of thousands of people who put antennas in their houses so that IoT devices can connect and work.
In other words, it is a way to decentralize a highly regulated market , controlled by large telecommunications corporations and in which it is difficult for other actors to enter. This blockchain is a perfect example of how Web3 projects could work , a new and revolutionary stage of the internet focused on the decentralization of applications.
The way to encourage people to put Helium “hotspot” antennas in their homes is by paying for the HNT cryptocurrency . In exchange for the data traffic that passes through his antenna, the person receives an amount of those tokens. In August 2021, the Helium blockchain was creating 2.5 million units of HNT per month, an amount that multiplied by the $7.11 this cryptocurrency was trading at in mid-May gives a total of 17.8 million. of dollars that are distributed among the participants of the network monthly.
In total there are 799,813 access points, known as “hotspots”, to the Helium network worldwide, covering 60,330 cities in 172 countries. On the explorer.helium website you can find up-to-date information on the places with the best coverage.
Europe, the United States and China are some of the places where the Helium network is most present. In the case of Spain, it is highly developed in Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona and the Balearic Islands , while the entire Portuguese coast has several connection points between Lisbon and Porto.
What IoT devices use the Helium network?
Helium’s 798,500 “hotspots” are devices with antennas that send small amounts of data over long distances using radio frequencies . These systems share some of the hotspot owner’s home bandwidth with nearby IoT devices, such as parking meters, air quality sensors, smart kitchen appliances, and more.
One of the clients of the Helium network is Lime , a company that rents transport vehicles such as bicycles and electric scooters in various cities.
The type of alternative infrastructure that Helium is creating is a LoRaWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network). This means that it is a low power wide area network that is designed to improve the performance of IoT devices. As its name suggests, it is optimized to transmit data from these IoT devices faster , over greater distances, and more cost-effectively than conventional Wi-Fi access points.
Helium is not the only LoRaWAN network out there , as there are also companies that offer this type of service. However, Helium’s proposal is disruptive because it seeks to create a decentralized network for IoT devices , that is, it is expanding due to the arrival of new participants who invest in buying a “hotspot” device instead of being controlled by a company.
Hotspots can be purchased through third party manufacturers such as Bobcat Miners, Cal Chip Connect and Nebra to name a few. These vendors have received approval from Nova Labs to sell these devices, with prices starting at $400 and taking 20-28 weeks to arrive.
The revolutionary power of Web3
Helium is a good example of a project that shows the revolutionary potential of Web3 , a new phase of the internet based on the decentralization of technology. In the version we are in today, Web2, a few tech giants control the internet economy.
Web3 wants to break this monopoly with the development of decentralized blockchain-based projects that encourage citizen participation in its growth with the payment of tokens , such as the HNTs that Nova Labs, the company behind Helium, has created from scratch.
In cases like Helium, people who install “hotspots” receive tokens in exchange for providing a service that helps the network grow . It’s an approach where everyone benefits financially from the growth of the infrastructure: the owners of Nova Labs, those who make the hotspots, those who install them in their homes, and the companies that use the service.
Web3 is a radically different vision of the Internet than Web2 projects such as Facebook , for example, in which the only ones who benefit economically from its development is the target company, while users are subject to advertising impacts.
In the case of Helium, the possibility of earning money through the HNT token encourages the network to grow . This is another of the radical changes that this Web3 project presents, since it is the people themselves who invest in the installation of access points, instead of being the result of a corporate decision that is executed gradually. This proposal has enabled rapid growth, going from 14,000 access points at the beginning of 2021 to 798,500.
It is impossible to know if Helium will continue to be a success or if it will end in failure . In any case, it is interesting to dissect it to understand the different components of Web3, such as tokenization, incentives, user participation and the search to develop projects in which everyone wins. This is how the step from Web2 to Web3 is built.