The idea behind Helium is to provide bandwidth to IoT devices that may be far from a power outlet, and do so securely, without relying on proprietary technology, and at a low cost.
Helium hotspot is a LoRaWAN gateway that allows you to earn HNT cryptocurrency and it could be more than just a way to fund the rollout of public LoRaWAN networks as some people or companies are making some serious money.
For years, wireless carriers have been trying to enter the IoT market with new networks designed for these devices. Technologies like NB-IOT and LTE-M don't perform as well due to cost and battery requirements.
AT&T offers LTE-M and NB-IOT services for $ 12 per year; prices are relatively similar from Choice IOT. T-Mobile says its network costs $ 6 a year.
In 2019, Helium entered the scene with a new approach: a decentralized network of access points using an old low-bandwidth system called LoraWAN in the unlicensed 900 MHz band.
The company today unveils Tabs, the first consumer device to run on the Helium network. Until now, the company has mainly sold hotspots for $ 349 to hobbyists interested in expanding the network, and then developer kits or enterprise devices to corporate customers.
Tabs are a bit like Jiobit or another location tracker. Their interface is pretty straightforward; there is a smartphone application with which you can track your tags and view historical location data. They have a range of up to 10 miles from an access point, and battery life is measured in "months," Halim said. Tabs will cost $ 49 for Helium hotspot owners, he said.
Data usage on the Helium network is billed as a 24-byte packet at the equivalent of 2.4 MB for $ 1. For devices with very low data volume, this can be much less per year than NB-IOT networks.
One of the company's most prominent clients is Conserv, a company that works with museums to ensure their art is not damaged by environmental conditions. Helium-powered automatic Conserv sensors can last for years on a single battery charge, the company said in a press release.
Helium pays hotspot owners to collect HNT.
According to the Reddit Helium subreddit, all hotspots use about 80,000 tokens daily, which means that as the number of hotspots increases, the profit per hotspot decreases; one poster right now quotes the world average of 27.5 HNT ($ 8.50) per day.
This means the hotspot can get its $ 349 back in 41 days. (Helium's official website estimates that about 108,000 tokens are distributed daily.)