What Is Helium (HNT)?
Helium (HNT) is a decentralized blockchain-powered network for the Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Launched in July 2019, the Helium mainnet allows low-powered wireless devices to communicate with each other and send data across its network of nodes.
Nodes come in the form of so-called Hotspots, a combination of a wireless gateway and a blockchain mining device. Users who operate nodes thus mine and earn rewards in Helium’s native cryptocurrency token, HNT.
HNT aims to prepare IoT communication for the future, identifying inadequacies in current infrastructure from its birth in 2013.
Who Are The Founders Of Helium?
Helium’s three co-founders, Amir Haleem, Shawn Fanning, and Sean Carey, started the company in 2013.
Haleem has an active eSports and game development background. Fanning, by contrast, is well known for developing Napster, the music-sharing service which was one of the first mainstream peer-to-peer (P2P) internet services in the late 1990s.
Carey meanwhile held multiple development roles before Helium, which included advertising optimization firm Where acquired by PayPal.
HNT’s team now consists of members who have experience in “radio and hardware, manufacturing, distributed systems, peer-to-peer and blockchain technologies.”
What Makes Helium Unique?
Helium aims to improve the communication capabilities of wireless Internet of Things (IoT) devices. In 2013, the infrastructure around IoT was still in its infancy, but developers wanted to add decentralization to their offering, hence referring to it as “The People’s Network” in official literature.
Its core appeal will be to devise owners and those interested in the IoT space, with financial incentives providing further outreach possibilities.
Network participants purchase Hotspots — a combination of a wireless gateway and a miner — or build their own. Each hotspot provides network coverage over a certain radius and mines HNT’s native token, HNT.
The network runs on proof-of-coverage, a new consensus algorithm based on the HoneyBadger BFT protocol, which allows nodes in a network to reach consensus when connection quality is highly variable.
In addition to HNT, users pay transaction fees in a separate token called Data Credits, which are not exchangeable and tied to individual users themselves.
How Many Helium (HNT) Coins Are There in Circulation?
Approximate mining periods of 30 to 60 minutes unlock rewards distributed according to a changing growth plan.
Helium explains that node owners will accrue more HNT for building out network infrastructure at the start, while later on, it will be more advantageous to transfer device data. This adjustment mechanism for token distribution is expected to last for around 20 years.
As of October 2020, there are 48,712,218 HNT in circulation. When the token launched, the supply was zero, with no pre-mine.
How Is the Helium Network Secured?
HNT uses a bespoke consensus mechanism called proof-of-coverage (PoC), which rewards users for contributing to mining (validating transactions) and ensuring stability.
PoC is based on the HoneyBadger BFT protocol, designed explicitly for node communication in unpredictable conditions.
HNT says that the most likely attack vector impacts node operators in the form of inbound ports of Hotspots. The platform’s wallet uses asymmetric keys for token holders to help users with fundamental private security.
Where Can You Buy Helium (HNT)?
HNT is a tradable token spreading across significant exchanges as of October 2020. Major pairs are active on Binance and FTX and include USD and stablecoins such as Tether (USDT).