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Helium Chapter 2: A Network of Networks | by Amir Haleem | May, 2022

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HIP 51 unlocks massive utility while staying aligned to the mission of Helium.

Helium’s mission has always been to rapidly build open, affordable, and secure global wireless networks that are owned and operated by the people. If successful in this mission, we unlock a new, exciting future of connected applications and use cases impossible under the status quo.

The first real-world implementation of this vision was launched in 2019 for the Internet of Things (IoT), the most underserved market in the telecommunications industry. Powered by a new crypto-incentive model, the vision quickly became a reality as Helium exploded in growth in what has seemed like an overnight phenomenon.

There are now over 828,000 Hotspots deployed with a remarkable 5,000 cities added every month, and new applications using Helium daily by everyone from independent developers to large Fortune 500 companies.

While we’ve encountered our fair share of scaling challenges on our journey, we’ve accomplished some incredible feats together, and I’m always in awe of the community’s dedication to our core mission.

That brings us to today.

With this success and traction, other networks started knocking on our door, asking how they could bring their applications to Helium and participate in the ecosystem. The first of these was FreedomFi, with community approval of Helium 5G in April 2021, followed by DISH, GigSky, and other partners piling into the 5G ecosystem to build out a nationwide cellular network in the US.

From there, many other networks became eager to join our mission and apply the Helium crypto-economic model to their ecosystems, including WiFi Dabba, aiming to bring affordable connectivity to the masses in India to the Boring Protocol tackling privacy with a decentralized VPN. You can hear from FreedomFi, WiFi Dabba, and Boring Protocol on why they came to Helium to accelerate deployment and the challenges of unlocking new networks within the current framework here.

While our vision began with IoT, the growing market demand was proof that the incentive model is a powerful means to give individuals and communities agency to own and scale any type of network.

Helium was designed for IoT devices and the LoRaWAN wireless protocol. With the community approval of 5G over a year ago and the ongoing development work that followed, it became apparent each network protocol would require a different design, from regions where they can operate to Proof-of-Coverage systems, data transfer, token rewards, and governance. However, they all have an important commonality: the need to participate in the HNT economic system.

To enable any network protocol to join Helium, the community proposed an innovative solution: HIP 51.

Helium uses a community-led Helium Improvement Proposal system known as the HIP process. To address the demand to support additional networks, the community proposed HIP 51 a few months ago — a proposal to evolve Helium into a “network of networks,” opening the door for multiple network protocols and multiple tokens to exist in the ecosystem.

As described by the authors, a network of networks would be the next big chapter for Helium, unlocking the full potential of its utility. As the universe of devices that can use Helium grows exponentially beyond IoT, the HNT incentive continues to underpin the flywheel of network creation.

To learn more, check out helium.com/chapter2.

What HIP 51 Unlocks

HIP 51 is the blueprint that allows us and our community to fully realize the mission to decentralize and incentivize rapid deployment of all networks of the future in two major ways:

1. Use HNT and Data Credits as the economic engine for all network protocols

2. Accelerate the addition and growth of new network protocols in the ecosystem by enabling their own tokens, economics, and governance

What’s the Impact of HIP 51?

In simple terms, each network protocol, or “subDAO” (as they are referred to in the proposal), would have its own token and governance. Each new token would be backed by HNT and be redeemable for HNT at any time.

Data Credits would still be required to use any network protocol, and just like today, would only be obtained by converting to and burning HNT, which decreases the overall supply of HNT.

Each network protocol receives HNT based on the size and utility of that network. HIP 51 refers to this as a “protocol score”, a new concept that would be implemented to accommodate multiple networks, all backed by HNT.

New network protocols could be added by submitting a Helium Improvement Proposal, such as LoRaWAN (HIP 52) and 5G (HIP 53).

Examples: IoT & 5G

Practically speaking, what would this look like for Helium 5G and the IoT network?

The first new network protocol to launch under this proposed system would be Helium 5G. 5G Hotspot owners would earn a new token, called MOBILE, for providing 5G coverage via a new Proof-of-Coverage system or by transferring data across the network via Data Credits. Existing LoRaWAN miners begin earning a new token, called IOT.

Marathon, Not a Sprint

When we set out to build the first decentralized wireless network, we knew the full realization of our vision would require a longer time horizon. Many have tried to create community-built networks in the past. Only Helium has reached a global scale, all thanks to our investors, our team, and our entire community.

While we’ve seen early success in IoT network growth, the real value metric is network usage overall. By accelerating the growth of new networks using the HNT model, usage from many applications will explode. We firmly believe in our vision and understand it will require a multi-decade effort with many core developers from many projects, in addition to our millions of community members.

Thank you to everyone in the community who has contributed to HIP 51, from the authors to the Discord discussions, and AMA conversations held over the past few weeks. It’s been incredible to see the collaboration across the ecosystem to get this HIP to where it is now.

As of today, the Helium Foundation has put HIP 51 up for a community vote. HIP 51, if passed, would be a major change to Helium and we encourage the community to have their say on the framework HIP 51 lays out for moving to a multi-network, multi-token system.

To cast your vote, head to heliumvote.com. The vote will close on June 7th.

  1. Network of Networks Explained: helium.com/chapter2

2. Read the full HIP 51 proposal here

3. Join the #hip-51-helium-dao channel on Discord

4. Listen to the Twitter Spaces with new networks: 5G, WiFi, VPN here

5. Listen to the Community AMA with the HIP 51 authors here

What do I need to do?

Vote on HIP 51 at heliumvote.com to have your say.

What is the impact on HNT?

HIP 51 enables massive new usage opportunities on HNT by allowing new network protocols to use the Helium ecosystem. The role of HNT becomes more important as new tokens would be backed by HNT and all network usage requires HNT for Data Credits.

What will happen to the HNT in my wallet?

Existing HNT wallet balances will remain unaffected regardless if it was mined or acquired on secondary markets.

What will happen to HNT mined by existing LoRaWAN Hotspots?

Existing LoRaWAN miners deployed on the IoT network will continue to mine HNT until Phase II of the HIP 51 roadmap. By Phase II, LoRaWAN miners will begin earning a new token, called IOT backed by HNT.

Is LoRaWAN mining still beneficial to the network?

Absolutely. IoT usage is a priority and LoRaWAN Hotspots will continue to provide network coverage for millions of devices.

How do I start earning MOBILE tokens in Phase I?

Helium 5G Hotspots will earn MOBILE tokens for having their Hotspots on-boarded to the Helium blockchain and their Outdoor/Indoor CBRS antennas deployed and online.

How much IOT will I earn after Phase II?

LoRaWAN Hotspot owners will earn IOT, proportional to their Proof-of-Coverage and Data Transfer activities. IOT is created on its own emissions and havening schedule as defined by HIP 52, is backed by and redeemable for HNT, and can be traded on secondary markets if and when they are available.

I have LoRaWAN sensors using Helium — how does HIP 51 impact me?

Implementation of HIP 51 would not impact device data transfer, Console users, or Router operators in any way. Devices across different networks would use Data Credits to send data over the Network and burning of HNT would continue to be required for Data Credits. New 5G users will now be able to leverage the Helium network for their applications.

I’m a Validator on Helium — how does HIP 51 impact me?

Validators will continue to perform the consensus functions for the Helium Network and earn HNT. In the future, each new network could have its own Validator system (described as Oracles in HIP 51–53). A transition plan for Validators will be proposed for discussion after Phase II of the HIP 51 deployment.

Will HIP 51 help the 5G rollout?

Yes, HIP 51 enables 5G and other new network protocols in the ecosystem to grow with their own token economics that incentivizes network creation, data consumption, Proof-of-Coverage, and governance.

What other types of mining will I be able to do after HIP 51?

HIP 51 unlocks IOT and MOBILE through Phase II but opens opportunities for other protocols like WIFI to join the ecosystem in the future.

What is the timeline for HIP 51?

A vote for HIP 51 is now open and closes on June 7th. If passed, implementation timelines will be shared at a later date.


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