“Helium”, world’s first decentralized wireless network raises $15m

The San Francisco based startup, Helium, announced the completion of Series C funding of $15 Million on June 12, 2019. The round was co-led by Multicoin Capital, together with Union Square Ventures, GV, Khosla Ventures, FirstMark and MunichRE Ventures.

Helium was founded in 2013. The company’s focus has been on building the world’s first Decentralised Wireless Network. The announcement of funding coincided with the launch of Helium’s online store where anyone in the US can now buy a Helium Hubspot.

Real Life Application

There are 90 million dogs and 96 million cats in the US alone. Pet trackers in use today cost $20 per month.  Even then, the conventional tracker is not very useful due to the low battery life. In comparison, the Helium enabled tracker will have battery life measured in years and will cost less than $1 per month to operate.

In addition to this, helium devices are being tested and used for smart city infrastructures such as sensors for public trash cans, smart pill bottles for elderly citizens and rental companies like Lime Scooter or Jump Bike.

These are but a few use cases that have been tested for Helium. The reduced data cost, eliminating low battery life, and security concerns will help developers come up with unimagined possibilities!

Helium and The People’s Network

The focus of the team behind Helium is to build a decentralized IoT economy, a ubiquitous wireless network where individuals are rewarded for providing wireless connectivity. The aim is to simplify connecting anything to the internet through a combination of blockchain, wireless network, and open source software.

One of the biggest challenges for IoT devices today is the cost and complexity of the infrastructure. Helium takes the control away from the large telecommunication corporates and places it in the hands of every person. The makers claim that their approach is akin to that of Airbnb – they reward the individual for providing wireless connectivity.

The resulting network will be owned and operated by a community, thereby reducing the risk of a central point for attackers.

How does this work?

The makers of Helium have identified Austin as their launch city. You can place your order for the Helium Hubspot here. For the price of $495, your device will be shipped to you in 6 to 8 weeks. Nationwide shipping will start by the fourth quarter of 2019.

You can plug in your hotspot directly into an electric outlet and then connect to a local network (either Ethernet or Wifi). Helium uses LongFi technology, which is 200 times the range of Wifi, for providing coverage. As they are extremely low power, the IoT devices using the LongFi protocol can be far more battery efficient than LTE.

Each of these hubspots has been tested to provide coverage of several miles. The company claims that only 50 to 150 hubspots are needed to cover an entire city.

If you are a hubspot operator, you will be rewarded by the IoT devices on a per-byte basis.

There are no additional resources needed for billing and maintenance of records as blockchains will manage customer accounts and billing for free.

The way ahead

Tushar Jain, the Managing Partner of Multicoin Capital, is very excited about their latest investment. He says,

“The Helium vision is the most ambitious we have seen in the blockchain space since the advent of smart contracts on Ethereum.”

He assures that Multicoin will continue to make investments in this space.

In 1999, Shawn Fanning’s Napster changed the music industry. Today, Helium promises to change the conventional business model of Telecom giants and build the world’s first peer-to-peer wireless network. This new network may be opening up a universe of possibilities for developers the world over.