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What is Helium? Could it Provide Internet to Everyone?

By Evan Jones12/22/2023

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Helium (HNT) is a Solana (SOL) based asset that describes itself as a decentralized wireless network (DWN). Since the beginning of December 2023, it has gone from under $3 USD a piece to over $7, but what’s driving its price movement

In order to understand why Helium has been making some big gains over the month of December we’re going to break down what HNT is, how it works, how Helium’s secondary IOT and MOBILE tokens work, and whether Helium could end up providing internet and cellular service to people around the world.

Helium (HNT) on the Rise

The Helium network is a decentralized wireless network (DWN) that allows devices anywhere in the world to wirelessly connect to the Internet and geolocate without the need for power-hungry satellite location hardware or expensive cellular plans as with current cellular providers. HNT powers the Helium network and incentivizes a two sided marketplace between coverage providers and consumers. 

There are a variety of companies now that are producing and supplying Hotspots that mine Helium tokens for providing wireless connectivity, and this is how the network gets its coverage. The more Helium hotspots there are active around the world, the more coverage there is for the network. 

Helium aims to bring decentralization to an industry currently controlled by monopolies. They want wireless network coverage to become a commodity, with true competition, and available anywhere in the world for a fraction of current costs. Helium enables developers to build low-power, Internet-connected devices quickly, and cost-effectively.

How Helium Works

Helium uses a proof of coverage consensus mechanism. With this mechanism miners simply need to prove they are providing wireless network coverage. There are two separate tokens within the Helium ecosystem other than HNT that play a key role in how the network functions as well. 

Helium IOT (IOT)

Helium IOT (IOT) is the token that powers LoRaWAN devices on the Helium network and uses proof of coverage. LoRaWAN applies to most IOT (Internet of Things) devices, and LoRa is suitable for long-range, low-data-rate, and low-power applications, making it ideal for this use case. 

IOT devices are those that form a network between themselves and the cloud and communicate with each other. Easy examples are things like voice assistants, camera doorbells, home security, and mobile speakers. You could choose to use the Helium network for your IOT devices rather than your current provider, or provide IOT users with access to the internet through your own hotspot and earn IOT tokens as a result.

Helium Mobile (MOBILE)

Helium Mobile (MOBILE) is the token that powers 5G devices on the Helium network and it also uses proof of coverage. Your phone is the most obvious example of a 5G device, but things like tablets, and laptops are also 5G devices. By leveraging the Helium network, you can get 5G coverage for all these types of devices at a much lower price than through traditional/current coverage providers. Conversely, you can provide 5G coverage using your Helium network hotspots to earn MOBILE.

The Helium Mobile network is already available within the US. US residents can get an unlimited nationwide 5G plan for just $20 a month, while also being able to earn MOBILE tokens at the same time. Helium offers a convenient eSIM card through their mobile app, meaning you can essentially begin using their network right after installing the app. Perhaps the biggest benefit of using the Helium Mobile network is that they don’t sell your data to 3rd parties. 

Could Helium Provide Internet for All?

Yes, technically speaking Helium could certainly provide internet to everyone. In order for this to happen though, there needs to be the necessary number of hotspots and Helium miners being run around the world to provide coverage globally. The key for the long-term success of Helium and its overall objective of decentralized mobile networks, is adoption

There are also similar projects such as World Mobile Token (WMT) and it would be interesting to see if projects would ever come together to truly accomplish their goal by merging growing decentralized user bases.

Closing Thoughts: Real World Applications

The Helium Network is certainly an interesting project. In a time of rising costs, the idea of a cheap, flat rate phone plan that has excellent coverage and speed is quite attractive.

For those in the US it is already available, but it will likely take off more in other countries. The reasoning behind this is that there are already many affordable phone plans in the US, but in other places, like Canada, there aren’t. It will be interesting to see what happens to Helium’s price action if it can penetrate that sort of market. 

Article tags

adoption
cryptocurrency
investing
Evan Jones

Author

Evan entered the crypto scene in 2017, attracted to the many disruptive possibilities that blockchain could have on current world systems. He has a keen interest in decentralized services, payment processing, and viable NFT use cases such as event ticketing. He spends his days writing with his dog Kobe under his feet, if not on his lap.

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