A Decentralized Wireless Network
Amir Haleem Andrew Allen Andrew Thompson Marc Nijdam Rahul Garg
Helium Systems, Inc.
Release 0.4.2 (2018-11-14)
The Internet of Things is an $800 billion industry, with over
8.4 billion connected devices online, and spending predicted
to reach nearly $1.4 trillion by 2021 . Most of these
devices need to connect to the Internet to function. However,
current solutions such as cellular, WiFi, and Bluetooth are
suboptimal: they are too expensive, too power hungry, or too
limited in range.
The Helium network is a decentralized wireless network
that enables devices anywhere in the world to wirelessly
connect to the Internet and geolocate themselves without
the need for power-hungry satellite location hardware or
expensive cellular plans. Powering the Helium network is
a blockchain with a native protocol token incentivizing a twosided marketplace between coverage providers and coverage
consumers. With the introduction of a blockchain, we inject
decentralization into an industry currently controlled by
monopolies. The result is that wireless network coverage
becomes a commodity, fueled by competition, available
anywhere in the world, at a fraction of current costs.
Our secure and open-source primitives enable developers
to build low-power, Internet-connected devices quickly and
cost-effectively. The Helium network has a wide variety of
applications across industries and is the first decentralized
wireless network of its kind.
The world is becoming decentralized. A multitude of platforms, technologies, and services are moving from centralized proprietary systems to decentralized, open ones. Peerto-peer networks such as Napster (created by one of our
founders Shawn Fanning)  and BitTorrent paved the way
for blockchain networks and crypto-currencies to be built.
Now Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other blockchain networks have
shown the value of decentralized transaction ledgers. Existing Internet services such as file storage, identity verification,
and the domain name system are being replaced by modern
blockchain-based versions. While software-level decentralization has moved quickly, physical networks are taking longer
to affect. These networks are more complicated to decentralize as they often require specialized hardware to function.
The Helium network is a wide-area wireless networking system, a blockchain, and a protocol token. The blockchain runs
on a new consensus protocol, called the Helium Consensus
Protocol, and a new kind of proof, called Proof-of-Coverage.
The Miners who are providing wireless network coverage in a
cryptographically verified physical location and time submit
proofs to the Helium network, and the Miners submitting the
best proofs are elected to an asynchronous byzantine fault tolerant consensus group at a fixed epoch. The members of the
consensus group receive encrypted transactions submitted by
other Miners and forms them into blocks at an extremely high
transaction rate. In addition to the blockchain protocol, the
Helium Wireless protocol, WHIP, provides a bi-directional
data transfer system between wireless Devices and the Internet via a network of independent providers that does not
rely on a single coordinator, where: (1) Devices pay to send
& receive data to the Internet and geolocate themselves, (2)
Miners earn tokens for providing network coverage, and (3)
Miners earn fees from transactions, and for validating the
integrity of the Helium network.
Note: This whitepaper represents a continuous work in
progress. We will endeavor to keep this document current
with the latest development progress. As a result of the ongoing and iterative nature of our development process, the
resulting code and implementation is likely to differ from
what is represented in this paper.
We invite the interested reader to peruse our GitHub repo
at https://github.com/helium as we continue to opensource various components of the system over time.
1.1 Key Components
The Helium network is built around the following key components:
Proof-of-Coverage We present a computationally inexpensive Proof-of-Coverage that allows Miners to prove they
are providing wireless network coverage. We anchor these
proofs using a Proof-of-Serialization that allows miners
Read the full White Paper here: