Helium, also known as The People's Network, is a decentralized wireless infrastructure initiative utilizing , enabling individuals and organizations to establish and manage wireless networks via token incentives, with its foundation built on the . [1]

, , and Sean Carey are the network's founders. [1]


Founded in 2013, the Helium Network emerged with a vision to establish a decentralized wireless infrastructure supporting the IoT industry. The founders aimed to democratize IoT connectivity by creating a community-driven network incentivized by economic rewards. In 2019, the Helium Hotspot, the flagship product, was launched, enabling users to offer wireless coverage for IoT devices through the LongFi protocol, fusing the extended range of LoRaWAN (a cloud-based medium access control (MAC) layer protocol) with the Helium and rewarding early adopters with HNT tokens. [1]


Helium operates as a decentralized network of Hotspots, providing widespread, long-range wireless connectivity for IoT devices and rewarding participants with IoT tokens on the blockchain.[1] The successful migration of the Helium Network to Solana on April 18th, 2023, driven by the community proposal HIP70, capitalizes on Solana's scalability, cost-effectiveness, and high-performance features. This strategic move enhances scalability for the IoT and Mobile networks, introduces advanced Proof-of-Coverage algorithms, and boosts network strength, making it more suitable for high-demand applications. The token-based system motivates participants, supporting diverse use cases like IoT devices through the LoRaWAN network and high-speed mobile connectivity via the 5G network. Additionally, the unique Proof-of-Coverage (PoC) consensus algorithm used by the LoRaWAN and 5G subnetworks rewards participants for verifying wireless network coverage. [1]


LoRaWAN on Helium

In traditional LoRaWAN Networks, a single entity typically manages a central or regional LNS. In contrast, Helium's decentralized network design aims for independently owned and operated gateways (Hotspots) and supports the independent operation of the LNS. The goal is to avoid the need for permission from a single central entity, the LNS operator, to access the network. Thus, enabling the multi-tenancy of LNSs on the same public LoRaWAN Network sets Helium's LoRaWAN Network apart, making public wireless infrastructure compatible with privately-run Network Servers. [2]

Organizationally Unique Identifier (OUI)

Organizationally Unique Identifiers (OUIs) are registered identities on the Helium Blockchain, facilitating packet exchange with end-devices. Users can use their own OUI or rely on a third-party operator like Console by Helium Foundation. Regarding functionality, only libp2p addresses registered as endpoints for the OUI can initiate and conclude state channels on behalf of the OUI. On the Helium Network, each LoRaWAN Network Server (LNS) is assigned an Organizationally Unique Identifier (OUI) registered on the blockchain. The OUI Operator, owning and maintaining the OUI, receives two crucial routing objects. Devices identified by (AppEUI and DevEUI) can be assigned to any of the OUI's DevAddrs, and multiplexing multiple devices on the same DevAddr is feasible, using the Message Integrity Check (MIC) for disambiguation. [2]

In 2023, Helium implemented the OpenLNS Initiative, providing more options and enhancing usability. [2]

Helium Mobile

Helium Mobile uses crypto incentives to get individuals to establish a network within days. Participants gain partial network ownership and earn crypto tokens, called MOBILE, fostering 5G wireless connectivity. Subscribers become owners, earning incentives for using their phones on the Helium 5G network. Helium Mobile prioritizes data privacy, committing never to sell user data to advertisers or third parties. [3]

HNT Token

HNT is the primary token for the network, while IOT and MOBILE tokens support the LoRaWAN and 5G networks. Subnetworks employ the distinctive Proof-of-Coverage (PoC) algorithm. [4]

HNT caters to the requirements of the two main entities within the Helium Ecosystem: [4]

  1. Hotspot Hosts and Operators: Hosts receive rewards in network tokens like IOT or MOBILE for establishing and sustaining network coverage, and these tokens can be exchanged for HNT.
  2. Enterprises and Developers: Devices can be connected, and IoT apps can be developed using the Helium Network. Data Credits, a utility token pegged to $USD and derived from HNT, cover transaction fees for wireless data transmissions on the network.


At its launch, the network aimed to distribute 5,000,000 HNT per month. With the community's endorsement of HIP-20, the network has implemented a two-year halving schedule, leading to a maximum HNT supply capped at 223,000,000 HNT. [4]

In the first year, the distribution was allocated as follows: [4]

  • 35% for Helium Inc. & Investors
  • 30% for Network Data Transfer
  • 35% for Hotspot Infrastructure (Proof-of-Coverage & consensus group)

IoT Token

IOT serves as the protocol token for the Helium IoT Network, introduced through the community proposal HIP-52 and further detailed in subsequent HIPs (1,2). The initial minting of IOT tokens occurred after the Solana migration on April 18th, 2023. LoRaWAN Hotspots mine IOT tokens through data transfer proceeds and Proof of Coverage. [5]


IOT adheres to a minting schedule comparable to HNT's, with a maximum supply capped at 200,000,000,000 (200B). Year 1 for IOT commenced on August 1st, 2022, and the issuance is designed to undergo halvings every two years, aligning with HNT issuance halvings. [5]


MOBILE serves as the protocol token for the Helium Mobile Network, introduced through the community proposal HIP-53 and detailed in subsequent HIPs (1,2,3,4). 5G-CBRS and WiFi Hotspots mine it using data transfer proceeds and Proof of Coverage. [6]


MOBILE follows a minting schedule akin to HNT, with a maximum supply capped at 230,000,000,000 (230B). At the launch of the Mobile Network, 50B MOBILE were pre-mined and allocated to the Network operations fund managed by the Helium Foundation. During the Genesis period, the team distributed a portion of the allocation to live Mobile Network Hotspots. Year 1 for MOBILE began on August 1st, 2022, with the initial tokens minted on August 12th, 2022. The issuance undergoes halvings every two years, in alignment with HNT issuance halvings. [6]

Data Credits

Data Credits (D.C.s) are the payment mechanism for all Helium network usage, redeemable for data transfer on both the IoT and Mobile subnetworks. Using DC is also a way to pay for actions such as onboarding a Hotspot. This $USD-pegged utility token is derived from HNT and generated by burning HNT following a and equilibrium design. The relationship between HNT and D.C. allows the supply of HNT to adjust to network usage trends. [7]

Primarily, D.C.s are used to pay for data transfer on the Helium IoT and Mobile networks, with the unique feature of no annual fees; users only pay for the data they use. To mitigate the volatility associated with typical token economics, D.C.s are pegged to USD, ensuring predictability in their value. Additionally, D.C.s play a role in specific functions on the Helium subnetworks, such as onboarding and verifying Hotspot locations. [7]


The Helium Network undergoes modifications in its technical architecture, tokens' economic model, and meta-governance through the governance of the global community of Helium token owners. Token ownership encompasses stakeholders such as Hotspot owners, network users, wireless network operators, and hardware manufacturers. Tokens are earned through contributing work to the network, such as transmitting data packets, and play a crucial role in network operations, including providing wireless coverage, sending data, and participating in the governance process through voting on Helium Improvement Proposals (HIPs). [8]

Participation in modifying the network involves the submission of Helium Improvement Proposals (HIPs), open to any participant in the Helium ecosystem. HIPs undergo public scrutiny, discussion, and debate in forums like the Helium community Discord server and monthly Community Calls. Token owners can vote on HIPs by locking their tokens for a specified period, granting voting power based on the number of locked tokens and the lock duration. A 2/3 supermajority of the quorum is required for proposals to pass. The Helium Foundation serves as a governance steward, providing expert guidance, managing open Helium GitHub repositories, vetting proposals for legal and technical compliance, and implementing approved HIPs without participating in the voting process. [8]

Helium Improvement Proposals (HIPs)

Helium Improvement Proposals (HIPs) delineate modifications to the open-source Helium protocol and the broader network, encompassing economic incentives, technical attributes, or meta-governance alterations. Introductions of HIPS are open to anyone within the Helium ecosystem and are cataloged in the public HIP Repository, managed by the Helium Foundation on behalf of the community. [9]

Participation in network-wide token holder voting requires possessing tokens, specifically HNT, IOT, and MOBILE. These tokens, which don't inherently grant governance rights, necessitate staking, a process called staking to confer voting power. Voting power is a product of staked tokens and the duration of staking, aligning users with the long-term success of building a decentralized wireless network. [9]

Holders of HNT tokens vote on proposals related to meta-governance, economic, or technical alterations to the protocol. Proposals exclusively affecting a subNetwork fall outside the purview of HNT voting. IOT token holders vote on proposals concerning the IoT (LoRaWAN) subNetwork, while MOBILE token holders vote on proposals affecting the Mobile (5G) subNetwork. These proposals encompass economic, technical, or governance adjustments specific to the subNetworks. [9]

Helium Vote Escrow Token (veHNT)

In the Helium Ecosystem, HNT holders can acquire veHNT positions by locking their HNT for a specified duration, gaining voting power and subDAO delegation rewards in the Helium . Following the lock-up period's completion and the closure of the locked position, the HNT amount is released to the owner's , becoming transferable once again. [10]

Introduced through HIP-51, veHNT, or voting-escrowed HNT, is a mechanism aimed at empowering Helium Token holders, enabling their participation in Network governance and reaping the benefits of its development. A clear understanding of the event token and governance model equips Helium stakeholders to make informed decisions and actively contribute to shaping the network's trajectory. [10]

The veHNT process involves converting locked HNT into a veHNT position, providing eligibility for participation in Network governance and decision-making. veHNT serves as the exclusive means for voting in the Helium Network, strategically designed to encourage sustained commitment to the network and align stakeholders' interests with its enduring success. The quantity of veHNT received during the locking process is contingent on the chosen lock-up period, with extended durations resulting in higher veHNT multipliers. [10]


The Helium Network is the foundational structure facilitating the existence of multiple Networks (subDAOs) through the HNT token. If participants delegate their veHNT position to a subDAO, they can receive a share of the specific token emissions to that network. [10]

Each subDAO exercises governance over a designated section of the Network, with the allocation of HNT tokens to the subDAO contingent on the veHNT delegated to it. The minting of HNT is proportionate to the veHNT staked in each subDAO. Initially, the introduction includes two subDAOs: IOT and MOBILE. For voting on matters related to the IoT and Mobile networks, participants will need to hold veIOT and veMOBILE, respectively. [10]

  • IoT SubDAO: The IOT subDAO is dedicated to realizing the initial vision of the Helium Network by fostering the expansion and advancement of IoT devices and applications. Delegating veHNT to the IOT subDAO contributes to funding projects and initiatives to enhance the IoT Ecosystem within the Helium Network.
  • MOBILE SubDAO: The MOBILE subDAO is committed to advancing the Helium Network's presence in the cellular communications sector. By delegating veHNT to the MOBILE subDAO, support is provided for projects and initiatives that focus on integrating Helium technology into mobile devices and networks. [10]

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Edited On

March 3, 2024


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