What is HNT Token and the Helium Ecosystem?

Written by Ivan on Tech

August 17, 2021

Helium blockchain and the HNT token are responsible for underpinning the Helium ecosystem. Furthermore, the Helium Network has launched The People’s Network, mining cryptocurrency through radio wave technology offering miles of wireless connectivity for internet-of-things (IoT) devices. The innovative Helium Hotspot makes use of the novel Proof-of-Coverage (PoC) consensus model to enable users to earn a passive income with crypto from Helium’s HNT token. As such, the Helium Network brands itself as a “decentralized machine network”, offering the world’s first physical blockchain. 

In this article, we are going to dive deep into the Helium ecosystem. We’ll explore Helium Network, The People’s Network, and the various use cases for the native HNT token. Also, we’ll look at the fundamentals of the innovative Proof-of-Coverage (PoC) consensus model and how to become a Helium validator!

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What is Helium Blockchain & the Helium Network?

Helium blockchain is host to Helium Network, which, in turn, supports the decentralized connectivity-focused network known as The People’s Network. As a decentralized machine network, The People’s Network allows anyone to connect to the network using physical Helium Hotspot devices. Presenting a revolutionary solution, the cost of connectivity with The People’s Network is a fraction of alternative costs with cellular devices. Moreover, businesses using Helium Network need only pay for their actual data usage. Costs can be transparently calculated with the number of devices on the network and the number of data transfer transactions. 

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Helium Hotspot devices innovatively mine the native HNT token using radio technology. Moreover, Helium Hotspot devices are only compatible with other devices using LoRaWAN® (low-power wide-area network) technology. LoRaWAN® provides a network for environmental sensors, weather meters, or GPS trackers. Any device that transmits small and/or frequent amounts of data can work in conjunction with LoRaWAN® as an internet-of-things (IoT) device. In turn, Helium blockchain is positioning itself as the go-to blockchain for physical decentralized connectivity. The Helium Hotspots will utilize existing WiFi or internet access to communicate data packets. However, the hotspots are not designed as a replacement use for mobile cellular service or at-home WiFi.

The People’s Network

The People’s Network is an open-source, decentralized wireless network with governance operating through an open alliance. Claiming to be the fastest-growing wireless network in the world, The People’s Network facilitates affordable, universal, and secure wireless connectivity. Unlike most cellular technologies, The People’s Network is a far more efficient and cost-effective alternative for wireless data communication and connection. 

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Moreover, The People’s Network can effortlessly facilitate scalable applications with affordable contracts. Any internet of things (IoT) device, from bike trackers to smart pet collars, can connect to Helium Hotspots without the use of cellular or WiFi networks. Furthermore, the cost of running a sensor on the Helium blockchain can be just cents per year.

HNT Token

The native HNT token functions as a multi-utility token instilling economic incentives for the network, increasing its security. Moreover, the HNT token operates in conjunction with Data Credits (DC) to access certain aspects of the Helium Network and the rest of the Helium ecosystem. We will discuss this in more depth further in the article. 

Blog HNT Token

Helium Hotspot owners by proxy introduce HNT tokens into circulation through a mining process using a novel radio frequency (RF) technology. With a maximum capped supply of 223 million HNT tokens, the token distribution of HNT will adjust over time, according to the needs of The People’s Network and the Helium Network. 

The starting rate for HNT token distribution was five million per month, with a halving event occurring every two years. As of August 1st, 2021, the issuance rate was halved to 2.5 million HNT tokens per month. 

Helium Network transparently shows the breakdown of the HNT token distribution during the first year on its website. Both Helium, Inc., plus its investors, and the Helium Hotspot Infrastructure receive an equal designation of a 35% share of the token distribution. This is to reward users for securing the network, alongside founders and investors who are currently managing the Helium blockchain governance. This is subject to change in the following year. The remaining 30% allocation will go to network data transfer rewards, incentivizing honest behavior from devices on the Helium network.

A larger HNT token allocation will go to Helium Hotspot owners during the initial phases to promote the adoption of the Helium blockchain and the Helium ecosystem. The project aims to increase the number of users, thus expanding and intensifying the security of the network. 

Exploring the Helium Ecosystem 

From education and Covid-19 contact tracing to internet-of-things (IoT) pest control and water metering solutions, Helium has integrated with many businesses and corporations. Furthermore, the Helium ecosystem extends with many different partnerships to expand its services for the HNT token and Helium Hotspots. These services include; Helium Network Toolkit, Hotspot Chat, network analytics, and a Hotspot optimizer, among many others. Also, the Helium ecosystem offers token holders various staking services. This includes Helium Rising, a validator pool. Alternatively, users could try the Automated Helium Staking service to earn a passive income with crypto, in HNT tokens. 

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Helium Network provides a variety of software and hardware solutions to support The People’s Network. Below we have discussed how the Helium ecosystem and The People’s Network operate.

Helium Token Mining

One of the greatest incentives of the Helium ecosystem is earning a passive income with Helium token (HNT) mining, powering The People’s Network. Helium presents an entirely new mining model, achievable for everyone. The project is mindful of being inclusive of non-technical users. Therefore, mining HNT simply requires installing a hardware device on your window and downloading the Helium app on your smartphone. The process could not be more straightforward!

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This is because Helium uses novel radio frequency (RF) technology to mine HNT. Installing the Helium Hotspot device automatically provides “miles of wireless network coverage for millions of devices”. Using a combination of core technologies explained shortly (LoRaWAN®, LongFi, and a mechanism known as Proof-of-Coverage), Hotspots only use around 5W of energy, similar to that of an LED light bulb. 

Helium Hotspot

There are several devices that can mine HNT tokens. However, HNT Miner was the first with over 20,000 Helium Hotspots active in over 2000 cities. In line with The People’s Network ethos, the Helium Hotspot proves that crypto mining can be easy enough and achievable by anyone. As of August 15th, 2021, there are over 125,000 active Hotspots across the globe.

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The Helium Hotspot allows internet-of-things (IoT) devices to frictionlessly connect to The People’s Network, operating on Helium LongFi. Using The People’s Network, IoT devices are able to communicate with miles of range. This averages around 200x farther than WiFi capabilities. Users can operate the Helium Hotspot through the Helium app, which is available to download on most smartphones. Here, users can view their earnings and the status of the Hotspot. 

Due to incredible demand, the Helium Hotspot is now sold out across both North America and Europe. However, since the implementation of Helium Improvement Proposal (HIP) 19, third-party manufacturers looking to mine HNT can do so through community approval. Some popular HNT mining brands include Bobcat (Miner 300), Nebra, and RAK Miners. 

Helium Ecosystem Core Technologies

The People’s Network uses the Helium blockchain and its core open-source technologies within the Helium ecosystem. In turn, The People’s Network is able to facilitate a decentralized wireless infrastructure model using the below core features.

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LoRaWAN®

LPWAN is an abbreviation of “Low-Power Wide-Area Network” and is a type of wireless network standard that allows battery-operated devices to communicate across great distances wirelessly. 

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Using LPWAN technology, LoRaWAN® has developed an architecture designed to scale with low-cost and low-power consumption. LoRaWAN® created a “secure bi-directional communication for internet-of-things (IoT), machine-to-machine (M2M), smart city and industrial applications”. The network works in a similar way to 5G. However, it does not require the same immense and occasionally intrusive infrastructure. Instead, LoRaWAN® runs on much smaller devices. Further, 5G sensors start at $30 each, whereas LoRa sensors are between $0.20 and $0.50 each. Some media outlets proclaim LoRaWAN® will temporarily replace 5G for internet of things (IoT) networks.

Helium blockchain and the LoRaWAN® Network are fully compatible. However, there is a key distinction between the two. The LoRaWAN® Network Server (LNS) is centralized, operating by a single entity, whereas the Helium Network strives for decentralization. As such, Helium uses a “multi-tenancy” function of the LoRaWAN® Network Server (LNS) for Hotspots. This means that Helium’s LoRaWAN Network is unique, allowing independently owned and privately-run network servers to be fully compatible with public wireless infrastructure!

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Helium LongFi

Helium LongFi is a vital cog in the Helium ecosystem. LongFi holds three main responsibilities. Firstly, LongFi facilitates the transfer of data between the LoRaWAN® wireless protocol and the Helium blockchain. Also, LongFi ensures any LoRaWAN® device is compatible with The People’s Network and can transfer data on the Helium Network. Thirdly, LongFi supports micropayments, allowing devices to pay for their access with Data Credits. This allows users to only pay for data based on their personal network usage. 

Data Credits

The People’s Network operates with a dual token system, using the Burn-and-Mint Equilibrium (BME) token model. In this model, there are two assets of exchange, the HNT token, and Data Credits. However, to gain Data Credits, one must burn their HNT tokens. Data Credits can gain holders access to activities and opportunities on The People’s Network and further in the Helium ecosystem. Plus, Data Credits are the only accepted medium of exchange on The People’s Network. Also, Data Credits can pay for transaction fees on the Helium blockchain and send bytes of data through Helium LongFi.

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Data Credits on The People’s Network work like pre-paid cell phone minutes. The value of a Data Credit is denominated in USD. Therefore, the ratio of Data Credits to HNT tokens fluctuates. A good price point to note is one Data Credit = $0.00001. Moreover, Data Credits can only be used by the original token holder and are not transferable. 

Proof-of-Coverage (PoC)

The Helium blockchain uses a novel consensus mechanism known as Proof-of-Coverage (PoC). PoC is the result of innovation on radio frequency (RF) technology, facilitating a decentralized machine network of Hotspots verifying transactions, securing the network, and completing various “challenges”.  

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Thanks to the Proof-of-Coverage (PoC) algorithm, Hotspots earn HNT token rewards by completing ad hoc challenges referred to as “beacons”. Beacons require Hotspots to verify and witness nearby Hotspot transaction payloads. Hence, Hotspots with neighbors earn more HNT tokens, as they can both issue and receive challenges. Lone Hotspots are unable to have their beacons verified and can only issue challenges. 

Helium Network Validators 

One of the latest additions to the Helium ecosystem is the Helium Network validators. Validators hold greater responsibility than miners and perform consensus work such as validating transactions and appending blocks to the Helium blockchain. In turn, Helium validators contribute to the security and scalability of the network and earn HNT rewards in return. 

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To become a Helium validator, you will need to stake 10,000 HNT tokens. Staking is a non-reversible transaction with tokens being locked for the duration of being a validator. Also, validators will need to have a suitable environment to run node software. Helium Validators receive their HNT token rewards directly into their crypto wallet at the end of every epoch (around every 30 blocks). Furthermore, validators who fail to meet uptime requirements or stay up-to-date with their rewards will be penalized, receiving fewer rewards. 

To withdraw from being a Helium validator, users will need to unstake their HNT token funds. Then, the validator will enter a 250,000 block cooldown period (approximately five months) before seeing their funds reappear in their wallets. Users will not earn any further HNT token rewards during the cooldown period.

Exploring the Helium Ecosystem & HNT Token Summary

Helium blockchain is host to the Helium ecosystem. This covers the Helium Network, which supports The People’s Network, the native HNT token, and Helium Hotspots allowing users to mine HNT tokens using a novel Proof-of-Coverage consensus model. 

The Helium Hotspots have seen widespread adoption around the globe. These provide a wireless connectivity network for internet-of-things (IoT) devices. Devices can connect to The People’s Network at a fraction of the cost of traditional 5G alternatives. However, Helium is looking at expanding its services by incorporating a second wireless network in partnership with FreedomFi, facilitating 5G connectivity. 

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In turn, the Helium ecosystem has been referred to as a decentralized machine network and the world’s first physical blockchain. Moreover, unlike most other mining gear that is often large, heavy, and requires a lot of power, Helium Hotspots take up minimal space on a windowsill or outside. Furthermore, Hotspots use the equivalent amount of energy as an LED light bulb!

The People’s Network uses a Burn-and-Mint Equilibrium (BME) dual token model. This means users must burn their mined HNT tokens to receive Data Credits to use as the unit of exchange in the network. Moreover, this increases the scarcity of the HNT token, thus increasing value. Through its novel mechanisms and innovative decentralized wireless connectivity solutions, Helium is at the forefront of decentralized machine networks, physical blockchains, and internet-of-things (IoT) communication and connectivity. 

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