What is Helium (HNT) and how does it work?
It’s no secret: hundreds of cryptocurrencies with different functionalities are mined by the day. The Helium wireless network is among the sea of service providers to have hit the crypto world in recent years. Basically, it is a decentralized network that allows Internet of Things devices within a particular location to wirelessly connect to the internet without requiring expensive cellular plans or power-guzzling satellite gadgets. Its advanced technology enables anyone to develop a huge in-expensive wireless connection infrastructure right off the bat. In this case, an individual can utilize a Helium node, also known as a Helium hotspot, to connect IoT devices allowing communication and the sending and receiving data.
Off late, Helium is receiving significant attention from investors, as well as crypto fans, due to its associated benefits and functionalities. Firstly, its decentralized blockchain technology fuels the People’s Network, one of the fastest growing networks worldwide that seeks to support a 5G capability. Next is its Helium Network Token, a reward that allows your typical crypto transaction.
All this makes it crucial for anyone to better understand Helium and the crypto market as a whole. In doing so, help them make an informed decision regarding investment opportunities and utility when navigating the crypto world.
Helium (HNT) Founders
Shawn and Amir Haleem are the brains behind Helium Inc, a company that gave birth to the Helium decentralized wireless network. They started the organization in 2013 and have surpassed major milestones in their entrepreneurial journey. In particular, the launching of the helium network in 2019, the growth of helium hotspots from 15 000 to about one million in 2021, and the netting of $200 millions monetary aid from Tiger Global and Andreessen Horowitz in 2022. Currently, the two are still the company’s CEOs.
What is the purpose of Helium and what is it used for?
The Helium decentralized wireless network was developed to provide a cheaper wireless internet connection option to IoT device users. It rewards miners with Helium Network Tokens they can burn to receive Data credits, which they can use on their gadgets to transfer data. Notably, these Data Credits are tied to a single user; therefore, they’re non-exchangeable. Of course you can simply buy HNT on almost any cryptocurrency exchange and burn them to acquire Data Credits, without the need of mining.
Apart from that, you can use HNT for other transactional purposes in the cryptocurrency trade markets.
Examples of organizations using the Helium decentralized networks
First off is Binary Beer, which uses the Helium network to bring about better inventory management amongst craft brewers. Specifically, its patented kegLinkTM technologies makes good use of geolocation solutions to fix issues relating to missing or disconnected data between the cloud and mobile kegs. Here, a brewer attaches a kegLinkTM sensor on their kegs to enable tracking. Binary Beer generally offers its customers’ affordable rates due to the Helium network’s low data rates.
Next is Barnacle, which utilizes the People’s network to inform users of the whereabouts of their luggage in transit ― where and when, or at what time their luggage will arrive. In essence, it offers real-time tracking of an individual’s package allowing the needed convenience and peace of mind.
Another bright example is AIRICA, a Helium-compatible indoor air quality organization that offers eateries, institutions, public transport, and office buildings insights regarding space utilization and room health. It uses helium network-based sensors alongside other technologies such as Outlook and Slack to provide real-time advice.
Read more about the agriculture companies that use Helium to improve their services and products and the applications of The People’s Network in Environmental Monitoring.
How does Helium work?
Like most of the cryptocurrencies out there, the Helium Network is a blockchain-based token that obeys some procedures. Either way it differs a bit from the others as it incorporates a new consensus set of rules known as the Helium Consensus Protocol, plus a new type of consensus mechanism known as the Proof-of-Coverage.
A typical transaction starts when miners submit their proofs to the Helium network. If the proofs are among the best, they’re transferred to an asynchronous byzantine fault tolerant consensus group at a fixed epoch. At this location, they’re quickly combined with proofs from other miners to form blocks in what is known as the block protocol.
Simply said the miners are rewarded for verifiying the Helium Network and providing wireless coverage. Another way to earn HNT is if your hotspot routes data transfer by actual Helium users.
On top of that, the Helium Wireless Protocol, also known as the WHIP, offers two-directional data exchanges between IoT devices and the internet through a chain of independent providers with several coordinators.
- Devices that pay to send and receive data on the Internet as well as geolocate themselves
- Miners who earn tokens for offering network coverage
- Miners who get rewards for providing internet services and for validating the Helium network’s integrity
What makes Helium a unique cryptocurrency?
Helium separates itself from the rest due to its improved Proof of Coverage mechanism ― a better version of the Proof of Work mechanism. This mathematical formulation rewards a miner whose hotspot’s location and network connectivity are confirmed. A connection’s success depends on the quality of network services offered to those using low-powered connected gadgets.
Other than that, the helium network usually uses the PoC challenge to check on the participating helium nodes to confirm that they’re indeed working. And that the data they’re sending is accurate.
Here are the three participants in a PoC challenge:
- Challenger: is the Helium hotspot or node responsible for creating and issuing a PoC challenge. The standard rate is one challenge per every three hundred and sixty blocks.
- Transmitter / challengee: it constitutes the target node in the challenge. Its work is to pass on challenge packets, which are then verified by the helium nodes located within the proximity. Additionally, it deciphers the beacon command offered by the PoC challenger and, at the same time, broadcasts the required RF packets.
- Witness: verifies the existence of a challenge packet after transmission
HNT mining hotspots
HNT Mining constitutes a process you can use to earn a new Helium token.
You can use the following steps to mine yours, as well:
- Purchase a Helium miner from a legit vendor
- Set it up in your favourite spot. At your home or office as long as you can connect it to an electric outlet and internet
- Install Helium app on your smartphone and connect it to the miner via bluetooth
- Connect the miner to your Internet Service Provider
- Start earning HNT by being part of the network
Important for the Helium mining process:
- The whole idea of the Helium network is to have just enough nodes, to be able to secure reliable coverage. In an ideal case scenario there would be enough participants so the network is spread out well. If any location is over-saturated, the miners there will earn less rewards.
- To improve your helium hotspots capabilities, remove any metal mesh attached to your windows as they might interfere with your network provider’s radio frequency.
- For reliable coverage and radio waves, place your mining machine at the highest point in your house. For example, in a room with the highest window position and with the lowest proximity to concrete, electrical gadgets, or metal.
Where can you store HNT?
You can store your mined HNT directly in the Helium app which you use to control your miner. It enables the proper management of tokens and hotspots, as well as integration of other several helpful features.
Such include a:
- Multiple recipients payment support
- Helium vote
- Helium identification verification requirement feature
- An address book
- Ledger balance
- Multiple accounts support
Types of helium wallets on the market
However when you accumulate a good amount of HNT you will have to look for a separate crypto wallet to store them in.
These crypto wallets feature a hard-to-crack architecture. They can be a better companion when wanting the most secure storage place for your cryptocurrencies, even in the offline mode. Better expertise in how to store, retrieve and transact your HNT units is all that you require.
They’re more expensive compared to the other options, but you can use them to store a vast number of cryptocurrencies.
It uses specific ledger software to store your HNT tokens, as well as run other operations. It can be your go-to choice, if you want a secure method for receiving and sending the helium coin.
It is a type of hardware wallet that provides advanced security for your crypto and Bitcoin private keys. As an example, it allows secure payments by not exposing your private keys when using suspect systems or computers.
They represent another form of storage you can use to store your HNT units. You only need to download its software application on your android or window devices, and you’re good to go.
Importantly, you should be aware of two types of software wallets:
A custodial wallet is one in which your network service provider takes care of the storage and management of your private access keys. Hence can provide a more secure way of storing your digital coins.
It relates to a type of wallet located outside your device. The only thing that your gadget does is store your private access keys. This makes them vulnerable to attacks; therefore, they can be used to store fewer HNT coins.
Web wallets / online wallets
As the name suggests, you can open one on your smartphone or personal computer as long as it has a web browser application. This makes them vulnerable to attacks; therefore you need to properly verify your wallet service provider. They can make a perfect choice for one-off transactions or when you want to frequently engage in trade transactions. Alternatively, when you want to keep smaller amounts of crypto coins.
In general, you need to consider the amount of HNT assets you want to keep and your goals when selecting your preferred helium wallet.
In our opinion, the helium app wallet takes the lead among the five options due to its helpful features that can enable the safe keeping of your digital assets.
How to buy, sell and trade Helium cryptocurrency
After mining or storing your helium digital assets, you may decide to sell them. So how can you go about it?
Well, you can sell them to the following helium trading partners:
All you need is an account on your preferred exchange, then follow the laid down procedure to complete your selling transaction.
FAQ`s about Helium Cryptocurrency
The most common questions about Helium:
Is Helium Crypto worth it?
Everyone should decide for himself if a certain coin is worth it or no. We are bullish about Helium for a simple reason – it provides a solution to real-world problems.
How close should your Helium hotspot be to others?
As a rule of thumb, you need to place your helium hotspot close to other nodes to enable a dense network. Doing so allows clear communication between the different internet devices. And as a reward, you earn more HNT units. However, a distance of at least 300 metres apart between the individual hotspot points is recommended depending on the environment―for instance, 1 mile for dense areas. On the other hand, 10 miles for rural areas.
How does the Helium network work from a technical perspective?
Helium combines the Helium blockchain and the LoRaWAN wireless protocol (LongFi architecture) in its functioning.
The Helium nodes or hotspots play the miner’s role on the helium blockchain, allowing you to earn new HNT units.
What are Data Credits?
Data credits are non-transferable units acquired in result of the burning of Helium network tokens. You can use them to connect your device to an internet service provider. Besides that, use them to pay for the blockchain processes and data transference through the Helium LongFi
As you can see, Helium is a game changer in the crypto world. The biggest advantage of HNT is that it solves real world problems – it secures cheap and reliable internet connection to any device or even areas where it is too expensive for the regular ISPs to enter.
In our opinion, it is a go to digital asset, especially if you want to ramp up your investment portfolio. However, take the requisite precautions since the crypto world is a volatile one. You can visit the helium website for more information.
All said and done, we can say that this is not financial advice; the content is only for educational purposes. Hopefully, you can glean some crypto insights regarding the Helium coin and how it can benefit you.
Zornitsa is the Editor-in-chief at Coinlabz. She is involved in researching the impact of blockchain technology and the way crypto is transforming peoples’ perceptions of finances.