Wow, there’s an actual use for blockchain? Helium can democratize internet connectivity
How does it all work?
What underpins Helium is a series of Hotspots retailing for $495USD. These create an open-sourced P2P long-range wireless network. You could consider each hotspot a node or gateway. Hotspots enable internet connectivity for low-power devices like those embedded with sensors to measure temperature, humidity, pressure or location, without needing Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity.
Helium’s open wireless protocol is 200 times the range of Wi-Fi at 1/1000th of the cost of a cellular modem. It offers massive competition to cellular networks. Unlike cellular, there’s no need to pay for sim cards, worry about data caps, or overage fee charges.
Helium shows the real value of open source
After you buy the hotspot, the core technology is available for free under open source licenses. Helium’s open source SDK means developers can create devices like pet trackers and air quality sensors. A popular use case is water management, such as water metering and water leak detection.
According to Mong, the company’s decision to switch to open source was “probably the best decision ever made.”
They saw the Helium blockchain, and they’ve taken that technology and implemented it with their stack on 5G. The Helium 5G Network utilizes The Linux Foundation Magma project as well as the open CBRS spectrum band made available by the FCC in January 2020.
What this means is that if you have a phone that supports 5G, you will soon be able to connect through Hotspots. This could mean getting 5G from your neighbor.
A partnership with Actility brings in the heavy hitters
Actility’s customers have industrial applications that have very specific requirements. Not only do they want reliability, data, accuracy, but they also want coverage. The more coverage they can get, the better off they are and the more value they can provide their ecosystem.
Many have tried to build a public wireless network in the past. And they weren’t able to succeed because the individual hosting of the wireless network didn’t have the right incentive to keep that network up and running, and to keep it running well. So, the incentive that we’ve created has aligned the interests of the network operator, which is individuals around the world, with users of that network.
Helium brings digital equity to the city of San José
Helium’s efforts are not only focused on corporate expansion. The company recently partnered with the city of San José, deploying 20 Helium-compatible Hotspots to volunteering residents and small businesses during a six-month pilot period.
Once connected, the Hotspots mine Helium HNT using the energy equivalent of an LED light bulb and transmit less than two megabytes per month in data. The HNTs will be converted into US Dollars to be then paid directly to low-income households to subsidize their internet expenses.
Mong is optimistic about the future:
If Helium can grow by 58,000 hotspots within a month, imagine if we didn’t have the limitations of supply chain and shortages?