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So, What is Helium?

Helium is far more than just a substitute for “a lot of hot air”.

Helium, or as they like to call themselves, “The Peoples Network” was launched in July 2019. Helium is a distributed network of long-range wireless Hotspots. It is a block-chain powered network for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Each Hotspot can cover several Kilometres. People that set up their own Hotspots are rewarded with crypto-currency (HNT) micro payments whenever a third party equipment/system sends and receives data through their Hotspot.


Due to its low bandwidth and long range performance, Helium is ideal for monitoring sensor information like; temperature, open/closed access or tank empty status, mouse-trap full, trash needs collection etc. Helium can also be used to remote control things like; turning lights on, opening gates, unlocking doors, watering parks, really whatever is connected in the world. Helium is even suited to transporting GPS data packets to supp


ort tracking and asset location systems suitable for share businesses like scooter/bike hire and other equipment rentals.


Ok, for those that care, Helium supports “LoRa” hardware data communication modules. These modules are very cheap, just a couple of dollars each. They can measure things like temperature, and control things too. Unlike WiFi, “LoRa” can communicate over several kilometres with other “LoRa” hardware modules to create a “LoRaWAN” (Wide area Network). Helium Gateways (or Helium Hotspots) provide a very low cost link (via the Internet) to extend the range between these “LoRa” modules to anywhere that there is coverage by another Helium Hotspot. This means the “LoRa” modules don’t need their own expensive Internet connections to form their own “LoRaWAN” over say, an entire city or even the whole country.


Now you get the idea. Well, the city of San Jose (in Silicon Valley) did, and many other cities world-wide have too. In fact “Smart Cities” are the next hottest thing since, well, Internet of Things (IoT) started being thrown around twenty years ago.

Play this short “San Jose” promo video: https://youtu.be/cycqTqp6qGI


Helium Coverage and government commitment here in Australia is still in its infancy. Have a look at these numbers for Australia.


https://www.heliumact.com.au/2021/10/16/helium-hotspot-growth-in-australia-oct-update/#:~:text=As%20of%2016%20October%202021,earned%20almost%20%2463%2C700%20to%20date.


This is a coverage map of Perth, Western Australia at the start of 2022. Pretty sparse, Hey!


Click the link (below) to check out the World Helium Coverage using the Live Interactive Explorer. Nearly 500,000 Helium HotSpots are already in service. You can even click on the individual HotSpot (the green hexagons) to see their current usage and crypto earnings.


https://explorer.helium.com/coverage


Excited yet?


You probably fell asleep with all that “LoRa” stuff. But, if you want to “Mine” your own crypto-currency (HNT) using Helium, then you can set up your own Gateway/Hotspot today for an outlay of a few hundred dollars. Like all things Crypto-Currency and Block Chain related, it’s very difficult to estimate potential earnings. Data credits are awarded based not only on data transactions through your HotSpot, but also through Coverage Challenges and Hotspot competition from other Gateways. Anyway, the claims are that a potential of up to $100 per day could be earned in an extremely good coverage location in a city with many third parties utilizing your Helium Hotspot. But after looking around the Coverage map it seems that the general earning are much less, a couple of dollars a day. But of course, in Perth this would currently be much less again, at least until Helium usage is implemented by our local government departments and our community service infrastructures are better developed.


Click below to see some of the partnered companies that are already using the Helium Network.

https://www.helium.com/ecosystem


For those of us that are a little more technical, happy to work with “Arduino IDE” and want to play with their own LoRaWAN, then check this out.



https://www.hackster.io/akarsh98/diy-easy-helium-node-rak-helium-developer-kit-free-hnt-bbbaf1


For sure, Helium is growing fast, even here in Australia. As it is not dependent on companies investing large budgets into HotSpot roll-out, instead rewarding an extremely large number of enthusiastic individuals that each want their own little piece of this growing network infrastructure, I think Helium is truly becoming “The Peoples Network”.

References for further reading;



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