Network Growth in New Areas
As the network has reached full saturation within urban centers, many Hotspot owners are choosing to relocate Hotspots from urban areas that are already covered by the Helium IoT network with high redundancy to less densely covered rural areas with a need for sensor coverage. Under the current incentive design, highly-dense urban areas receive lower transmit reward scales and often split rewards between greater numbers of hotspots. Hotspot owners may optimize their rewards by relocating Hotspots out of these dense urban areas, which allows the network to grow in terms of coverage area. At the time of writing, 730 cities without any previous Helium Hotspots have had Hotspots placed in them over the past 30 days.
Network Usage & Performance
As a reminder, the Helium protocol burns fees from a variety of sources: fees are associated with sending HNT from wallet to wallet, transferring device messages, adding hotspots, asserting new hotspot locations, purchasing a blockchain OUI, and purchasing a blockchain subnet. Over the past 365 days, the Helium network has burned $39.7 million in protocol fees according to TokenTerminal, placing it among the top protocols in the industry.
So how does the Helium IoT network compare to alternatives?
To reiterate, Helium's goal with IoT is to create a low-cost, frictionless network, enabling all sorts of different use cases. This is only possible as a result of people-built coverage, which eliminates cap-ex expenditures that are then passed on to users. Let's take a look at some cost comparisons between Helium and some narrow-band IoT (NB-IoT, a similar IoT network technology) competitors below.
Through our recent community survey (more on that below), we saw that sensor ping rates vary widely by use case. Using rough math to average the answers, we'll use a sensor that pings 20 packets per hour as our example for the cost comparison.
Using the Helium Network, the annual cost per device comes out to just $1.75, along with the added benefits of lower hardware costs, no SIM card required, and longer battery life. To operate at a scale of 100 devices, the annual cost is only $175.
Comparison with NB-IoT Competitors
US Telco 1
Under one nationwide US telecommunications company's lowest cost unlimited NB-IoT plan: This would carry an annual cost of $18 per device, along with a required $1.50 SIM card per device, more expensive hardware, and shorter battery life. Operating at a scale of 100 devices would carry an annual cost of $1,950, 11x more expensive than operating on the Helium IoT network.
US Telco 2
Comparing yet another nationwide US telecommunications company's lowest cost unlimited NB-IoT plan: This would carry an annual cost of $30 per device, along with a required $2 SIM card per device, more expensive hardware, and shorter battery life. Operating at a scale of 100 devices would carry an annual cost of $3,200 18x more expensive than operating on the Helium IoT network.
This theoretical use case demonstrates how Helium has drastically altered the cost structure associated with IoT devices, and why we're optimistic that these changes will result in previously impossible, large-scale use cases.
What Use Cases Are Being Built?
Over the past few months, several new companies began using the network across a variety of use cases like asset tracking, building monitoring, refrigeration, smart agriculture, and even drone deliveries!
Full Spectrum Solutions
Communityfi has IoT solutions across real estate, tracking, food & beverage, and smart agriculture.
Orkney LORA is an IoT platform and service provider/systems integrator based on the remote Orkney Island of North Ronaldsay in Scotland, UK.
Dronedek is a novel concept working on secure drone package receiving and storage. Their next-gen smart mailboxes accept all types of deliveries and pickups including food, parcel, medical, and traditional mail.
Proof of Physical Work
There’s an emerging trend of other proof-of-physical work Web3 applications leveraging Helium to enhance their value propositions. It's really exciting to see like-minded companies working with each other, and we believe this is a vertical to watch as the space continues to expand.
Hivemapper is the world's first crypto-enabled dashcam that mines HONEY token and grows the map while you drive. Hivemapper is using Helium for location verification to add another layer of validation to their mapping, prevent cheaters, and increase customer confidence in mapping.
As mentioned above, we also took the opportunity to survey the community and learn more about the types of sensor deployments and use cases leveraging the Helium IoT Network. In future reports, we look forward to comparing trends and how they change over time as new users continue to onboard.
While tech (hardware, software, other) was the most represented vertical, Agriculture and Agribusiness (24%) represented the largest non-tech vertical, followed by Energy, Telcomms, and Consulting.
Asset Tracking (51%) was the primary use case served by respondents, followed by Building Monitoring (46%) and Smart Agriculture (46%).
More than half of respondents said they deploy sensors related to Temperature (76%), Location (62%), and Humidity (60%).
The most common sensor ping rate was 1 packet per hour (45%), followed by 1 packet per minute (34%).
The average size of sensor deployment operations is well distributed, but 11-50 sensor deployments lead the way (27%).
Crowdspot is a self-service tool built by Nova Labs for the community to allow anyone to explore Helium Network Hotspot data to understand atypical Hotspot behavior and identify anomalies. The Helium core developers recently made significant updates to Crowdspot making it far easier and more streamlined to identify and report abnormal Hotspots.
These updates include:
- Streamlined interface - An easier way for users to submit reports to the Denylist. For example, submissions can be made for one or many Hotspots.
- Advanced-trust algorithm - Submissions are assigned a trust score to help determine their legitimacy using a combination of signal information, witness data, and ownership history.
- Secure login - Users can easily login with their wallet credentials, ensuring only network participants can make submissions.
- Easy lookup - Users can see the type, status, and time of submissions at a glance.
We look forward to seeing the results of the community having more tools to police the ecosystem and reward legitimate coverage. To check out more community tools, visit the Helium Ecosystem page.