Helium Overview: What Is It and Should You Invest?
There are so many alt coins on the market, and with new ones being released every day, it can be difficult to stay up to date on which ones are a good investment and the ones that you should skip. One of the newer coins that has recently experienced a spike is one by the name of Helium.
Helium is a blockchain built on IoT (Internet of Things) that helps devices on the Iot network experience data coverage similar to WIFI. It also grants users a wide range of wireless capabilities like mining, hotspots, and sending data—all over an encrypted connection.
Whether you have heard of Helium before, or this is your first time learning about this cryptocurrency, it’s important that you learn more information before you spend any of your hard-earned money. Keep reading below to learn all about Helium and how it may hold an important place in society in the near future.
What is Helium?
Helium is blockchain technology that is built to specifically pair with devices that operate on the IoT, which is just a fancy way of saying devices that connect to the internet. Think of Helium as a long-range wireless network similar to what your cellphone operates on, but specifically built for devices that already run on blockchain technology. The network has a number of hotspots that give users coverage. People are incentivized to run Helium hotspots because they are paid a small amount of the blockchain’s local cryptocurrency, Helium or HNT in order to do so.
Currently there are 2,500 hotspots in the Helium network which spans the globe and more are being added every day. It is actually the largest network of its type in the world as of the writing of this article. Unlike cell phone companies, where you pay a flat fee per month to use their data network, with Helium you will pay a fraction of a cent per transaction, and this money goes directly to the miners. Not only does this save you money, but it keeps the control of the network in your hands and not the hands of the greedy cell phone monopolies that currently exist in most countries. Think of it as a decentralized cell phone network—but everything is done over data.
Not only is it better for you financially, but the hotspots in the Helium system work at a much higher range than those found in a traditional WIFI hotspot. The signal of these hotspots typical extends to a 500-meter radius. Helium currently runs on a proof of coverage consensus method, checking that miners are covering the areas they say they are and challenging miners to set up hotspots in any uncovered area with increased mining rewards.
Currently, there are four companies that are involved in the mining of Helium. In theory, anyone who wishes to could join to mine HNT, however they will need some high-tech equipment to get started, and this typically prices out several people from the market. But it could be a worthwhile investment if you have some extra cash lying around.
Who Invented Helium?
Helium was co-founded by three people, Amir Haleem, Shawn Fanning, and Sean Carey in 2013. All three men have backgrounds in gaming, technology, and software development, including a program that has been adopted by PayPal. It took many years for them to develop the coding and groundwork for the Helium network, and the cryptocurrency coin was not launched until July 2019, almost 6 years after they first formulated their plan.
What is Proof of Coverage?
If you’ve been interested in the cryptocurrency world for a while, you are probably now familiar with most consensus methods, such as proof of work, proof of stake, and proof of authority. But it is unlikely that you’ve heard of proof of coverage until Helium. And that is because, as of right now, Helium is very unique and the only player in the space.
Because Helium is a bit like WIFI, it needed a consensus method that would provide reliable service for users. Thus, it uses the same technologies used by radios (radio frequencies) to produce proofs. These radio frequencies are used to check the users’ distance from a hotspot, and if the user is within the area and has credits to use on helium, the connection request is granted.
Not only do these proofs operate constantly to maintain strong coverage, but they also help the Helium network to learn about its strength as it goes. If it finds an area where people request connection to not have an available hotspot, it will encourage miners to set up a hotspot in that area. This means it is an autonomous system and doesn’t need a company overseeing it on a regular basis for it to improve.
The cool thing about proof of coverage is that it is truly permissionless and decentralized, meaning there is no way to exploit the system and it is a great equalizer in the world of data services. There is absolutely no incentive to take advantage of the Helium system in countries where there are low power, nor is there any reason to put more equipment in one location—as if the location is already saturated, it will not allow a hot spot to be placed there and hooked to the system.
Should You Buy Helium?
Helium is a very unique technology that is still in its infancy. Although it appears like it is a good idea, and that it is truly part of the direction the world is going in when it comes to the internet, it is just too new to the space to truly predict if it will be a worthwhile investment or not.
This means, if you like the technology, and you believe that Helium is the next step in the data upload world, then invest, because if you believe in something, it is always worthwhile to invest in it. Just be aware that your investment will carry a lot of risk (just as most cryptocurrency investments do) because it is a new technology that depends highly on people choosing to use it in lieu of current technology.
Overall, Helium is unique technology that seems as if it really will be useful in this world, after all, who doesn’t want better WIFI everywhere? But as far as an investment in the technology goes, it is a bit early to the game, and hard to tell if Helium will truly be the network that catches on. Either way, invest based on your own judgment, and then get an IoT capable device so you too can benefit from this awesome technology.