Helium (HNT) is referred to as a decentralized blockchain-powered network for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Released in July 2019, the Helium mainnet lets low-powered wireless devices communicate with each other and send data across its network of nodes. The nodes come in the form of Hotspots, which are a meld of a wireless gateway and a blockchain mining device. Individuals who operate nodes thus mine and earn rewards in Helium’s native cryptocurrency token, HNT. The company, Helium, was founded by Amir Haleem, Shawn Fanning, and Sean Carey.
Helium's goal is to improve the communication capabilities of wireless Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Network participants buy the Hotspots, which are a blend of a wireless gateway and a miner—or build their own. Every Hotspot offers network coverage over a specific radius, and also mines Helium’s native token, HNT.
The network operates on proof-of-coverage, a consensus algorithm based on the HoneyBadger BFT protocol that lets nodes in a network reach consensus when connection quality is highly variable. Apart from HNT, users pay transaction fees in a different token named Data Credits, which are not exchangeable and tied to individual users themselves.Participants earn HNT by mining and building coverage for The People’s Network using compatible Hotspots.
The amount of HNT shared to Hotspots depends on the kind of “work” they perform based on the value to the network. This validation of network contribution is done by a work algorithm named Proof-of-Coverage (PoC). To participate in PoC, Hotspots get instructions (or "challenges") to transmit payloads to Hotspots around to witness and verify. The single-hop challenges are referred to as "beacons." Hotspots without neighbors earn less since they can only issue challenges, and cannot have their beacons verified. After the first year, the distribution amounts adjust.