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Helium (dshr.org)
150 points by Liron on Aug 5, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 108 comments

Well, no ill will to the Helium people - it seems like a somewhat smart idea. I wouldn't call it a "Web3" use-case though - as many have mentioned - they could have done their own payment processing and it wouldn't change the underlying product much (except possibly in the excitement of customers / would-be hotspot hosters).

I guess my ill will here is with VC firms. Helium has raised 364.8M. With $6,500 revenue? I've talked to about a dozen folks like me, doing small, on-the-cusp-of-success startups, doing 3 to 5x that revenue with nowhere near the exposure as Helium, who get essentially laughed out of the room when trying to raise 500K.

I have a very hard time buying that the founders are ~600x better at fund raising than others, or that the idea even requires that much capital to prove out. Could they have not started with say, one neighborhood in SF, proved the idea, and raised from there?

The only conclusion is that the author of this piece is right - it's a scam to dump the hyped coin onto retail investors. If it ever comes out that A16Z did in fact sell at peak and profited massively from this, I cannot help but feel it is existentially damning for the concept of silicon valley. I say that as a lowly but devoted tech acolyte.

Well, at any rate, my response of being a bit annoyed at "what's your path to 100B" type questions from VCs will now change to "What makes you a capitalist and not a racketeer?".

Could they have not started with say, one neighborhood in SF, proved the idea, and raised from there?

No, they probably couldn't have. Nobody will build IoT devices for a network that exists in one neighborhood so they built a global network and now they're hoping that devices start appearing. Besides, this kind of "go big or go home" play is exactly what VCs were asking for. I'm still highly skeptical of Helium but there is a certain logic to it.

They didn't invent a new protocol or wireless standard. They're hosting a LoRaWAN and charging folks to use it. Presumably, Lime, for example, didn't actually need to change any hardware at all to use their service - their scooters already operate the proper hardware - they just bought LoRaWAN service from Helium instead of from say, Verizon. So I see no reason why it couldn't have been proven in a single city at the least.

Check the article; Lime is not using Helium at all (apart from some early unsuccessful experiment).

so, that's another reason to assume ill will of Helium - they never had a deal with Lime. Helium was just lying.

> With $6,500 revenue? I've talked to about a dozen folks like me, doing small, on-the-cusp-of-success startups, doing 3 to 5x that revenue with nowhere near the exposure as Helium, who get essentially laughed out of the room when trying to raise 500K.

Try 20 billion dollars lost over 10 years... and still getting investor money (Uber; Lyft will soon be on par).

There's a magic combination of no morals, a product and rampant speculation that investors flock to.

You're mixing up revenue (the amount of money coming in) and profit (what's left over after costs).

Helium doesn't have $6500/mo profit -- their profit is, in all probability, deeply negative. They have $6500/mo revenue.

So they are in a good company then :)

With who? Because Uber and Lyft are very much not in that group. They're losing small amounts at massive scale, while Helium is sitting at no scale.

Good company of "magic combination of no morals, a product and rampant speculation that investors flock to."

This isn't for IoT home devices. This is a network for specific business segments, municipalities and researchers.

The coins are just to convince people to buy the equipment and spread it out. Filling in the grid is more profitable than adding multiple nodes to the same segment. This causes a sort of mlm scheme where those who are 'in the know' are convincing family and friends to install these devices for a share of the profit.

They could have paid them in dollars.

How is it any different than any other startup compensating its employees or vendors with equity instead of cash? Generally it makes sense for an early stage company to convince its partners to take equity or equity like instruments instead of cash. This is preferable for a number of reasons including:

* Early partners are probably optimistic on the project (and hence why they're partners), and therefore want to participate in the upside.

* It aligns incentives, where early partners are heavily invested in the success of the project.

* It removes the cost, distraction and uncertainty of having to raise more cash to pay early partners by selling the equity to outside investors.

> How is it any different than any other startup compensating its employees or vendors with equity instead of cash?

It avoids securities regulations around disclosure, insider trading, etc.

The token exists to bootstrap the ecosystem and give early adopters upside. Otherwise getting necessary global adoption to get it off the ground is not possible.

Like with all startups Helium has under 10% chance to make long term and for that upside to realise.

People are saying the gateways cost ~$100 to make and there are ~1M of them which is $100M. Helium has received >$250M of investment. They could have just sent out the gateways for free instead of using crypto.

The biggest problem with A16Z dumping at the top while using the "we're so early" lines to get exit liquidity is that they are a seed/growth fund, not a hedge fund. It just ruins their credibility when talking about web3/crypto. If a hedge fund does this sort of thing, they're just trying to maximize profit, which isn't especially bad if they're not simultaneously telling retail investors that they are getting in on the ground floor. Edit: not saying A16Z is dumping on retail, just that it looks really bad for them if they are.

Revenue is a bad predictor of future value for a network effect business (here a literal network). VC is supposed to seek high risk / high reward investments over 5+ year periods - especially ones that have a self-reinforcing moat like a physically distributed network.

I understand what the logic is - I'm only suggesting that there is a gross disconnect between the capital available to grow small but profitable businesses and the capital available to gamble on a high-risk / high-reward situations where the "reward" is a share of a quasi-monopoly that more or less executed a hostile market takeover. That isn't so much capital allocation as something else entirely.

There's plenty of capital to grow small but profitable businesses. But it generally comes from in the form of a small business loan from a regional bank. Venture capital is explicitly a model seeking homeruns not singles.

Being mad at a16z for not investing in your online t-shirt business makes about as much sense as being mad at Warren Buffet for not investing in complex interest rate derivatives.

Sounds like your issue is with capitalism and not helium

I think there's plenty of ill will warranted for the Helium people - their business is scamming people with an investment scheme based around buying expensive node devices.

Nova Labs makes no money when people buy hotspots.

You and others have said this multiple times in this thread. Is this documented somewhere on their website? It's hard to just take your word for it looking at the prices.

>> damning for the concept of silicon valley

Little too far. I work in the valley, raised a series B, and haven't heard of Helium. Strongly suspect the space is just poisoned.

I think I'm most bothered by Helium lying about their corporate users. There is no longer a question in my mind that we need better government protections for consumers in the crypto space. Whether we ascribe their false marketing to negligence or outright malice, companies like Helium and their investors should be held responsible for exploiting consumers.

I purchased a Helium hotspot last year and was drawn in by what seemed like a real use case for a decentralized system - it made sense to me as far as what value was being provided by miners compared to other PoW cryptocurrencies. I was disappointed by the rewards being somewhat low, but I chalked it up to bad timing.

A few months later, the helium network proposed a change which would take a % of rewards away from hotspot operators and gave it to large holders of the token who have staked it(validators). Sure, this change was 'voted' on - but having more HNT tokens gives you more votes. If large capital holders(at least 50% of the supply seems to be held by the top ~25-30 wallets per https://explorer.helium.com/accounts/richest) can outvote those actually providing utility(hotspot owners), then it doesn't really strike me as a particularly fair and decentralized system.

You ran towards an unregulated market - literally because it was unregulated, these promises couldn't be made by a regulated entity, and now you're unhappy because you feel screwed. That's literally why the regulations exist, but you have to accept that you aren't just going to get "free money" offers in real markets. You're going to get them in unregulated markets, and they're going to be lies.

Well, you make a fair point, expecting to get rich quick is obviously unrealistic. I think people like me got caught because with Helium at least the basic economic premise of "you are being paid to offer your internet uplink/bandwidth for use by others" makes sense. This is in contrast to some of the various crypto ponzi schemes where the only way for a token to gain value is for more people to buy into it.

If we took crypto out of the equation entirely and Helium was a startup offering payments in $ while not being transparent about their usage/adoption rates, would we feel the same way about those who "fell for it" and invested in miners? I'm honestly not sure.

It’s a standard MLM tactic to pretend like some product at the bottom of the pyramid makes economic sense to sell. E.g. Herbalife sells some kind of herbs right?

I am currently building a end consumer device using LORAWAN. It sends you a push notification upon receiving mail in your mailbox. It also uses helium, because the network coverage is quite good. https://notific.at - i think end user use cases are the key to make the business model behind Helium work. The fact that helium was able to scale within 1 year what TTN had to do in 8 years is quite the proof for me that paying gateway owners some kind of revenue is the way to scale the network coverage.

The beauty of helium is that it didn't exist, then two years later, it exists everywhere, covering most of the western world. People don't "agree" with how it got there: guess what, all other attempts to do the same have utterly failed.

The data is so cheap that it enables fantastic new applications like yours. Don't stop building. There are many people (not on HN) cheering for you.

Nah. There was a period about 20 years ago where there was pervasive public Wi-Fi that provided full coverage of virtually every sufficiently dense urban area. Then people started locked down their hotspots, and within 2-3 years that was the end of that. Nice while it lasted though; thank god the advent of speedy cellular wasn’t too far around the corner.

the problem is that battery consumption. of course there are alterantives, but all of them need WAY more power than LORA

Nah, bad example. Not ubiquitous enough. Nice try

The ends don't justify the scamming.

thank you for that kind words, means a lot. i am not selling a lot and the whole development process was part of the journey for me. i also think that one should just try to build stuff, even if it is only helping a small amount of people.

Except they used crypto to mask the fact that the positive ROI of ownership is at best years out rather than months out.

That's the whole point of crypto tokenomics. You use the token to incentivize capital expenditure on the speculation that demand will come. The entire point of a token is to align incentives around this. It has worked for Bitcoin and Ethereum. It has worked for many other protocols (Sushi, Aave, Chainlink, Filecoin, Arweave, etc). It has also failed for some protocols.

Actually it hasn't worked anywhere except to incentivize capital expenditure on mining hardware which does nothing of value beyond wasting electricity. All of those protocols you listed are scams or pointless failures.

You really think the first, ever, widely used public key databases are useless? You don't believe cryptography has any usecase? Or you misunderstand why a blockchain is novel? Two possibilities.

I read your comment, and started to draft a reply, but I went back through it, I don't actually think you understand the words you're using, so it's kinda pointless.

We have had widely used public key infrastructure available in database products since the 1980s. Perhaps you weren't paying attention?

Cryptography obviously has use cases. Real customers have been paying for it since long before the advent of digital computers. That has little to do with the scammers, grifters, and ideologues pushing cryptocurrency schemes.

There's not much novel about blockchains. It's a clever bit of mathematics, but so far no significant commercial value. You should read the NIST overview.


It seems you could sell the mailbox device and the gateway together if cost permitted (I know you say "No base station required" but some users may not mind running a basestation, especially if it required little/no configuration).

Too much friction. Reminds me of the classic HN refrain: why use Netflix when I could just setup a RAID storage server and my own linux-based media platform?


That would cost a lot of money and have no content. The problem isn't friction. The friction would be easy to overcome if you didn't have those two fatal problems.

yes i thought about that. Interestingly there are a lot of customers who are buying gateways and extend the coverage in their neighbourhood. It takes around 5 minutes to set one up.

There are gateways who are more complicated and more for developers, but of course i don't want to offer these.

Whoof. A pretty damning overview of one of the few intriguing "Web3" use cases.

I've always thought blockchain subsidized mesh networks were a great idea - people provide access via a router, and are reimbursed based on how many other people access the network via their node. Seems ideal, and could quickly and easily scale across an urban area.

Is there some inherent limitation in the underlying technology that prevents this type of distributed system?

Yes, two of them.

First, RF bandwidth is a shared resource. One may credibly complain about the FCC’s allocation of bandwidth, but the big cellular networks work well because they are centrally managed. If every tall building had ten antennas operated by competing token miners, then they would probably have incentives to deliberate interfere with each other, and they would have little incentive to cooperate. The overall results would be much worse than what we have today.

2. Decentralized blockchains are inefficient. Helium would work every bit as well as it does today (hah) if the payments were centrally managed. Of course, it would be more to regulators and law enforcement, which might be a good thing.

I don't think the primary issues are technical (LoRA is packet-based, so there'd need to more than 10 antennas near each other to cause headaches), they're financial. Even if we grant the basic premise that it would be useful to have LoRA coverage all over the place, the operator of the network needs to actually have customers who will pay to use it, and pay enough to cover then paying the people hosting nodes. I think you're right that Helium's blockchain/crypto angle is more about avoiding oversight / taxes / liability than it is any sort of fundamental requirement of getting lots of people to sign up to join building out coverage.

As I understand it, the idea is that people are essentially subletting the bandwidth they pay for from their ISP.

ISPs famously overprovision users. While your ISP plan may nominally guarantee some level of bandwidth, the network physically can't support all users using that much bandwidth at the same time.

It's like gyms where if everyone who had a membership actually showed up, there wouldn't be enough gear to go around. The gym's business model completely relies on the fact that most members don't use the maximum of what their plan allows.

ISPs don't want you subletting their bandwidth because that makes it easier to consume all of what your plan allows. They absolutely can't handle a signficant fraction of their users doing that.

So, if a subsidized mesh network were to ever become popular enough to be a viable business, ISPs would simply forbid users from participating in it.

It's just a fundamentally broken business model. It would be like sharing a gym membership across multiple people. Makes perfect sense for the member. "Hey, I only go one day a week anyway, so I can let 6 other people share it on the other days!" But the gym itself straight up could not sustain that at their current membership prices. Their only options are:

1. Forbid it (which is what they already do, since membership is associated with a specific person).

2. Go out of business.

3. Jack up membership prices until they can sustain all members fully utilizing their membership. But that would drive away members who didn't share memberships and make it so that your fraction of a shared membership is about as expensive as a single one used to be.

Fundamentally, you can't pull infrastructure out of thin air. Pretending you can be reselling it won't work.

Sharing a portion of my 300Mbps down/20 Mbps up bandwidth for a LoRaWAN network that passes dozens to low hundreds of bps per device is like fretting over people breathing the air in the gym parking lot.

If the device is only passing a few hundred bits per second, that also implies that it is doing almost nothing of value as well.

Here's maybe another way to think about it: What possible viable business model is there for consumer ISP customers to build an ad hoc wireless network on top of the ISP's infrastructure that wouldn't immediately get killed by ISPs entirely reasonably cutting out the middle man?

The step from connectivity of 0 bps to 100 bps is massive. Plenty of sensor apps need a few hundred bytes per day to create value.

You could also provide less (but fully available) bandwidth at the same price. Offer the current 1gbps plan at a much higher rate.

Or more realistically you could introduce plans with data caps, or “burst modes”.

I think there are a lot of knobs here.

What about a separate mesh network? i.e.- not connected to the global internet through an ISP.

I could see there being value to a fully independent "intranet" local to a geographic region.

No - it is a great idea and will eventually work. A massive demand for this service doesn't really exist yet - so Helium is struggling. IOT devices everywhere are not here yet.

But I don't see anything wrong with the underlying technology and the subsidy model. The only hiccup is the expected legal fight from big telco!

I'm working on a different LoRa-related startup, and I can say with pretty high confidence that most people hear "mesh network" and jump directly to, "so I can check Facebook from anywhere?" (Replace Facebook with Slack, Zoom, YouTube, or any other bandwidth-hungry, "use it all day" app you can think of.)

And yet, the theoretical (not even real-world) bandwidth for LoRa is in the hundreds of bytes per second; perhaps whole _kilobytes_ if you're giving up most of the range and power savings that LoRa offers for traditional IoT.

On the "small devices exchanging small amounts of data" front, LoRa, particularly for large-scale deployments like the ones Helium resells access to, faces a lot of competition from Thread, Matter, and other "home-scale" mesh options. Until Apple or Samsung puts a LoRa radio in their handsets, it's going to be a niche product. (Unlikely because Semtech owns all the patents on LoRa. One of them might _buy_ Semtech, but I imagine they'd shell out $2 per handset approximately _never_.)

Do you have any good starting points for reading up on the differences between LoRa and traditional WiFi? Both technical and practical.

Regardless of the payment model, construction of reliable, large scale wireless mesh networks remains an unsolved problem. Scaling those is not easy due to nodes going up and down, terminal devices moving around, intermittent RF interference, etc. The One Laptop Per Child project famously tried to use such a network in order to extend Internet access into areas lacking communications infrastructure, but it never really worked. This remains an area of active research and I'm skeptical whether the field has matured enough for commercialization.

> Is there some inherent limitation in the underlying technology that prevents this type of distributed system?

The ToS of the ISP you plugged your "web3 router" into prevent you from reselling your bandwidth.

Since Internet access has converged on an unlimited usage pricing model this will end up like Spotify: customers pay a flat rate which gets sliced extremely thin and providers get paid very little.

I'm not sure it's correct to say that internet access has "converged" on unlimited usage. Most cellular plans have data caps (even "unlimited" plans have caps that they throttle after) and even hardwired internet plans are starting to have data caps by default now.

I wouldn't have spent so long talking about $HNT spot price, as it erodes the impact of the article. There are companies doing good work with share prices that aren't pumping, too. Helium is a scam regardless.

I've read additional criticism where bad actors in China operate fake nodes which report as being in the middle of the ocean; using the network browser tool you can see arrays of nodes there. This is far more alarming to me as it indicates that the security model isn't real and the network is compromised.

AFAIK they "fixed" the fake node problem by preventing people from building their own; now you have to buy them from Helium. Arguably this is semi-centralized but no one really cares.

There are 30+ vendors of helium compatible hardware. Nothing is purchased "from helium".

AFAIK those vendors are officially licensed.

by a third party who gets paid about $5000 to validate the hardware/firmware/business entity of aforementioned HW manufacturer.

It's not shady, as others would have you think.

Andreas Spiess, "the guy with the Swiss accent," analyzed the Helium network in May 2021 for his YouTube channel about electronics and micro-controllers. His video [1] provided a technical description and also analyzed the Helium business case. Spoiler alert: he concluded that the business case for hotspot owners was comparable to a Ponzi scheme.

At the time of his analysis, the Helium network had about 39,000 hotspots with about 32.5 million data credits spent in 30 days by network customers for data transport. At the fixed price of $0.00001 per data credit, that customers spent a total of $325. On average, each hotspot earned a little over 8/10 of a cent from data traffic during those 30 days.

In the 14 months since that analysis, Helium signed up many more data customers and grew the network to almost 920,000 hotspots. Customers spent about 187 billion data credits in the past 30 days at a total cost of $1.87 million. On average, each hotspot earned about $2 from data traffic during the past 30 days.

Hotspot owners also earn rewards from proof of coverage activity: sending beacon messages and witnessing those messages from other hotspots. Proof of coverage rewards were very lucrative during Helium's first year, but diminished rapidly as more hotspots shared proof of coverage pie. Those rewards also diminished in urban and suburban areas as people deployed other hotspots nearby.

The Helium Explorer [2] lets hotspot owners find locations where proof of coverage earnings remain high. These locations are in smaller communities and on the periphery of overdeveloped metropolitan hotspot clusters.

[1] https://youtu.be/nerQCrOam5U [2] https://explorer.helium.com/

It's not surprising that the revenue is that low. LoRa consumer devices are almost nonexistent at the moment and office buildings etc who use LoRa devices have their own hotspots on site.

Since there are now tons of Helium hotspots everywhere, maybe that could be open up the market for more consumer LoRa devices? Not seeing much of it yet though, but who knows.

That’s the bit I don’t get: how is so little of the money raised going into its own product?

$6.5k/month is embarrassing.

Personally I looked into using their tech for a semi-remote cabin where I didn’t want to pay for extortionist telecom rates just to turn something on/off remotely, and couldn’t find a good way to do it with Helium.

I would have thought there would be an off-the-shelf thing, but nope.

If you have cell coverage, you may want to take a look at https://www.particle.io/. Device availability is somewhat limited, but the service is cheap enough ($3/device/mo I think?) and their tools are pretty good.

> He conveniently ignores that conflict of interest policies prevent journalists owning cryptocurrencies, not experiencing them using the paper's money.

To see a a conflict of interest here is like saying that you must not write about the US-Dollar as a journalist as long as you have some. Perhaps it is a conflict of interest if you own a lot of it and do not disclose the fact -- but any? Is this really the case?

> To see a a conflict of interest here is like saying that you must not write about the US-Dollar as a journalist as long as you have some.

No, it's like having AT&T stock and writing about AT&T. As much as web3 fans WANT crypto "currency" to be a currency, it is still, at best, a volatile, high risk investment vehicle.

FYI a sizable percentage of America owns some amount of crypto - depending on the study, anywhere from 8%-20% - that's more than $100 bills in wallets, which is ~5% of Americans. Only if you include ETFs and mutual funds can you claim this about AT&T stock.



I’m not sure what your point is. Journalists can hold mutual funds and ETFs without being in conflict of interest.

Since a journalist writing about crypto currency can have direct impact on that coin’s value, they are ethically bound to not write about coins the hold. Just like direct holdings of stock.

When SEC approves crypto ETFs that's great until then Americans are rolling their own from direct holdings.

And, again, journalists writing about crypto should avoid doing that until there is an actual “etf for crypto”.

The legal classification in the EU should be interesting here. The directive 2018/843/EU defines "virtual currencies" and classifies them as "means of exchange" (in contrast to "fiat currencies" and "legal tender"):

    “virtual currencies” means a digital representation of value that is not issued or guaranteed by a central bank or a public authority, is not necessarily attached to a legally established currency and does not possess a legal status of currency or money, but is accepted by natural or legal persons as a means of exchange and which can be transferred, stored and traded electronically;
Source: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CEL...

I believe the conflict of interest is not simply that the author reported on a company they had invested in. In my opinion, the conflict lies in the fact that they then wrote pieces, in their role as a journalist, that pretty much were free advertising and encouraged other people to also invest in this company. The fact that these pieces appear to be poorly researched is like icing on the cake.

Because they benefit from people investing in this company, isn't that a clear conflict of interest?

no, that's an inane comparison, and one I've only ever heard crypto pumpers making.

Is Helium's New '5G Network' Just Hot Air? https://www.pcmag.com/news/is-heliums-new-5g-network-just-ho...

This was pretty disappointing. To see FreedomFi not own up to the fact that 4g vs 5g is misleading... with their excuse that everyone else is doing it.

> Roose could have rapidly found enough information to cast doubt on Helium's sustainability.

Couldn't a similar accusation be levied against a lot of other hyper-growth startups, eg Uber? They were heavily subsidizing rides to grow and might not actually have a workable model if the subsidies are removed.

> Couldn't a similar accusation be levied against a lot of other hyper-growth startups, eg Uber? They were heavily subsidizing rides to grow and might not actually have a workable model if the subsidies are removed.

Yes. Yes it could, and it must. Uber lost over 20 billion dollars over 10 years. It's not a business. It's a speculation and price dumping vehicle.

Only difference is that bagholders won't be retail in those cases.

Uber is listed on NYSE, so there's plenty of opportunity for retail to get in on the action.

Helium is basically Herbalife marketed to crypto bros. There is no reason these hotspots cost $500 dollars or more. It's a simple Lora access point and should sell somewhere around a $100 (or less, considering how many are sold). Just like MLMs: People believe they are a partner and will profit along with Helium. In reality they are the end customer. Nova Labs makes money from onboarding people's hot spots and that's it. Every other revenue is a rounding error.

Nova Labs makes no money from onboarding hotspots. That goes to the Helium network. You're just counting network billings as Nova Labs, when they are two separate entities.

I think Nova did the right thing by getting out of the manufacturing business, so that those hotspots can go sub $100.

Nova makes no money in the sale of hotspots.

My biggest disappoinment is with NPR. They were shilling Helium on their recent podcast. Anderssen Horowitz was even cited as a source in their story.


NPR disappoints me on a regular basis but it's still valuable to have in the news ecosystem.

I saw the Helium ad on YouTube a couple years ago and was instantly enamored (yay decentralization) but upon actually checking out the details it became clear it was Yet Another Crypto Scam.


I follow a Facebook page for Helium miners in the UK, because a family member was interested in getting involved and I said I would check it out first. I recommended against it (as I do with all crypto 'investments').

I observed it going "well", with people boasting massive return on investment. I then saw their profits drop, with software updates and faulty equipment being blamed. As a result, people went out and purchased new and more expensive equipment, many buying ludicrously expensive support equipment to improve signal properties. After quite some time of this, I then saw their revenue drop even more so.

Many of these people are invested several thousand pounds (multiple miners, multiple types of miners and support equipment). I see fewer and fewer people post now, with many now accepting their loss.

There is a real cost here, and as per usual, it is the people least able to afford it that pay it.

I have disconnected my gateway, as it's been wasting bandwidth downloading the blockchain all the time due to some bug. At its peak, I was generating about $100 a month, which was nice. Should have sold a while ago, but now I'm just holding the almost-worthless tokens, just like everything else in crypto winter.

Is it just a yet another spying operation by China? https://www.reddit.com/r/HeliumNetwork/comments/s0cw2e/can_a...

From the Helium home page:

> Using a Burn-and-Mint Equilibrium token model, The People’s Network utilizes two units of exchange: HNT and Data Credits.

Here's a simple heuristic to separate "crypto" wheat from chaff: is a "utility token" involved? If yes, you are probably looking at a scam. If not, scam is less likely.

Here Helium gives off a strong aroma of eau-du-scam in that not just one but two tokens are involved.

Wait, there's more. A few hops through the home page leads to a GitHub repo with the following:

> In order to join the blockchain, every hotspot requires an onboarding code. This code is validated by a staking server and used to onboard a hotspot and pay the $40 staking fee. Currently, these codes are exclusively issued by Helium Inc and validated by their staking server at <staking.helium.foundation>.


So not only are there tokens, but there's a non-refundable fee to get going.

Maybe it's possible to run one of these projects without it turning into a MLM scam. But given enough time, even the ones with the best intentions seem to arrive at that destination.

I think you're misreading. HNT was the original token and was a new chain. Data credits are just how the outside world burns those credits at a fixed price, so that they don't need to know about crypto. Not a token.

And Nova Labs doesn't get any of that onboarding money. That is burned by the network.

Can we not get decent titles on things? At least enough to know whether a post is about an element, a crypto tool, software for amazon, etc.

And maybe a hint of what about helium people the post addresses?

It's their fault for having a shitty name.

impressive to me that this thing managed to construct global coverage provided by literally tens or hundreds of thousands of disparate actors, while delivering on nearly zero of the mesh networking dream.

IIUC each node is a one-way LoRa gateway. literally: a Helium device can only communicate with devices NOT on Helium.

in the LoRa implementation traffic is strictly one-way. a device can transmit sensor/heartbeat data, and that’s it. no ACKs from whatever IP service is ingesting that data, much less HTTP error codes.

the 5g stuff doesn’t really solve this. it broadens the applications — because at least now you can have bidirectional comms initiated from within the Helium network (TCP streams). but you still can’t initiate connections into or even within the network. it’s fundamentally flawed as a “mesh network”, in that it only works so long as a majority of IP destinations aren’t on Helium.

Words are too overloaded already. Time to invent new letters.

Is LoRa compatible with IEEE Wi-Fi HaLow?

No, and HaLow would be an awful choice for a mesh network as there are only 3 possible channels as I understand it.

LoRa is a closed protocol... probably not

No, they're different protocols.

> A major reason that cryptocurrencies have become such a problem is that mainstream journalists

Stopped reading exactly here. It’s also the first sentence.

A refusal to do the reading, especially when forming opinions on something, is a chronic problem amongst crypto promoters, yes.

Instead of reading about Helium that doesn't matter, you may want to read about helium that does matter.


I mean for one, not the same helium and for two, breeder reactors.

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