From the start, our core thesis has been that blockchains are a new class of computers. The three fundamental components of any computer are computation (your CPU), storage (your hard drive), and networking (your network interface card). Existing smart contract platforms like Ethereum are optimized for computation. There are also blockchains optimized for storing data like Filecoin and Arweave. Storage blockchains work well today for use cases like NFT metadata and will continue to improve their scale and content delivery. We haven’t seen the same focus on blockchains optimized for networking.
Physical computer networks are difficult to deploy. They are time and capital intensive and require high upfront fixed costs. This cold-start problem has plagued the adoption of community owned and operated computer networks.
Blockchains are uniquely able to create community owned and operated platforms, and to align incentives among users at different stages of adoption. Early adopters can withstand high upfront costs knowing that the rules of the platform won’t change without their input. A community owned and operated computer network is a natural fit for a blockchain.
Amir Haleem founded Helium in 2013 with the goal of creating a more connected world through wireless networks. In 2018 Helium announced their Decentralized Machine Network, a community owned and operated computer network for IoT devices. In 2019, Helium entered its next phase and launched their hotspot, allowing anyone to contribute connectivity to the network.
Amir’s vision has become a reality. Helium is now the fastest growing wireless network ever and is comprised of more than 100,000 hotspots. Today, Helium is a community owned and operated LoRaWAN network. LoRaWAN is a long range, low power, wide area networking solution ideal for IoT devices. LoRaWAN can help track devices in remote areas or over long distances. For example, LoRaWAN can connect small thermometers on vaccine doses to ensure they remain at the right temperature during long shipments.
Because Helium is owned and operated by users, it has earned the moniker “The People’s Network.” Helium’s growth has relied on normal users operating hotspots from their homes and businesses. In exchange for operating a hotspot, users are rewarded in HNT, the native token of the Helium network. HNT can be burned to create data credits, which are spent to purchase connectivity from the Helium network and from other users who run hotspots.
Helium is now evolving and has embarked on the path to deploy a 5G cellular network of gateways and hotspots. We’re excited about Helium’s potential to provide comprehensive 5G connectivity across the world in a way that’s faster and more capital-efficient than traditional telecom infrastructure.
Given their incredible progress and vast potential we’re excited to partner with Amir and the team to continue building a grassroots telecom network.
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