Helium Foundation

Protocol Report 2023


Welcome to the second Helium Protocol Report.

Since our inaugural Protocol Report last year, much has been underway on the People's Network. The Protocol Report is a quarterly publication by the Helium Foundation to help summarize and track the Helium Network's progress, usage, and performance. Here, we look forward to sharing some of our highlights from the first quarter of 2023.

The goal of the Protocol Report is to help keep you informed about updates surrounding the buildout and usage of each of Helium's networks, how we measure performance and progress over time, and, most importantly, the vision we are all trying to achieve. With the migration of the Helium Network into the Solana ecosystem completed, this quarter's Protocol Report also contains an overview of migration and the potential it unlocks for the Helium Network.

A primer on the Helium-Solana migration

When the Helium Network was first launched in 2019, there was no other blockchain capable of meeting the needs of the world's first People-powered decentralized wireless network for the Internet of Things (IoT). Helium Hotspots each had to contain small computing units capable of validating Helium's signature Proof-of-Coverage transactions and producing blocks.

Now, in 2023, several smart contract-capable blockchains can support many of the functions needed by the Helium Network. Helium's primary purpose is to build out open, physical infrastructure; thus, it became possible for Helium to continue to do so without needing its own specialized Layer-1 blockchain. With this understanding, the Helium community voted to approve Solana as the new blockchain of the Helium Network.

The migration to Solana allows the Solana blockchain, rather than Helium Validators, to handle basic transactions and wallet functions for Helium users. Helium-specific functions, such as processing and recording Proof-of-Coverage and Data Transfer are handled by Helium Oracles, which are staked entities that specialize in efficiently handling this type of data. As a result, Helium users benefit from access to the entire Solana ecosystem and significantly increased blockchain performance. Solana transactions clear in under 1 second and are over 100x cheaper. At the same time, Helium Oracles will ensure that Proof-of-Coverage and Data Transfer activities can continue seamlessly with minimal downtime. We can't wait to see what the Helium community will build on Solana.

During the migration day, there was a 24-hour transition period while the Helium blockchain was stopped; during this, the Helium Core Developers transferred the chain state over to Solana. To support the migration, the Helium Wallet app became a Solana wallet and supports all the familiar Helium functions in conjunction with Hotspot apps from Hotspot manufacturers.

Executive Summary

IoT Network

  • The number of IoT Hotspots onboarded onto the Helium Network has grown to over 990,000 from 981,000 over the past quarter.
  • Exciting new use cases such as smart waste management, heat island monitoring, roof leak detection, and more joined the network in the last three months.
  • The IoT Proof-of-Coverage Working Group was established to discuss improvements to and rapidly iterate on Proof-of-Coverage.

Mobile Network

  • The number of Helium Mobile radios has grown ~10% to over 7,400 radios during the past quarter.
  • The continued development of Mobile Proof-of-Coverage
  • The Helium Foundation created easy-to-use, one-time Helium eSIMs for testing.
  • The Mobile Proof-of-Coverage Working Group was established to discuss improvements to and rapidly iterate on Proof-of-Coverage.


  • The Helium Network migrated onto the Solana blockchain.
  • The Helium Grant program opened for 2023.
  • The Helium Foundation doubled its employee headcount.

The Helium IoT Network

Our Progress

The first quarter of 2023 has been full of technical development for the Helium IoT network. Helium's community, Helium's core developers, and the Helium Foundation have all been hard at work on advancing the Hotspot owner and network user experiences. A significant amount of work over the last quarter has been focused on the full implementation of HIP 70 including moving IoT data transfer accounting to oracles and the move to the Solana blockchain.

The Helium IoT network continues to grow in the new use cases and network users as the Helium community puts forward several quality-of-life improvements to the network user experience. Network usage is the end goal of the Helium Network, and the Helium Community and the Helium Foundation have been taking the challenge of onboarding more sensors and businesses onto the Helium Network with enthusiasm.

IoT Network Growth Metrics

Here, we highlight some new network use cases and key metrics. We expect additional metrics sourced from Helium Oracle data to be available in the next Protocol Report, including more in-depth analyses of Helium Data Credit usage.

Network Buildout:

  • Number of onboarded Hotspots on the network and % growth over the past three months.
  • Number of countries and cities building out the network with coverage.

Network Usage:

  • Increasing number of companies and use cases building on the Helium IoT network.

So let's take a look at these numbers...

Network Buildout

As the network rounds the corner of Q1 2023, the total number of onboarded Hotspots has reached 990,074. The Helium IoT network remains one of the largest, most widespread LoRaWAN networks, with over 450,000 Hotspots online in the past month. Implementing Helium Oracles for the IoT network also means that Light Hotspots, which require a fraction of the computational and power resources of traditional Helium Hotspots, can now onboard and participate in the Helium IoT network.

Because of the dramatically lower hardware requirements for Light Hotspots, we expect that manufacturers will soon be able to offer lower-cost Hotspots to users, which may open the door to additional Hotspot growth by further lowering the barriers to owning and operating a Hotspot, especially in areas currently without any Helium coverage. At the time of writing, several manufacturers have already received security approvals for their Light Hotspot designs from the Helium community's Manufacturing Compliance Committee (MCC), including Bobcat, Browan, ClodPi, Dragino, Dusun, EDATEC, Kerlink, Linxdot (Fx Tec), OPTION, RAKwireless, RisingHF, SEEED, SONoC, and Smart Harvest. While the MCC reviews the designs, hardware, and certifications of Hotspots, the approval of designs by this community committee does not represent an endorsement of these companies.

At the time of writing, 253 cities without any previous Helium Hotspots have had Hotspots placed in them over the past 30 days.

Total Onboarded Hotspots1 Month Change2 Month Change3 Month Change
990,074987,503 (+0.26%)984,975 (+0.5%)981,256 (+0.9%)

The Helium IoT Network


Network Usage & Performance

Due to the early nature of Helium's Mobile network, nearly all of the fees burned on the Helium Network today are blockchain fees or fees burned by Helium's IoT network. Over the past 90 days, the Helium Network has burned over $700,000 worth of fees, according to TokenTerminal.

What Use Cases Are Being Built?

This quarter, we welcomed several new users to the Helium IoT network as well as saw innovative new devices from veteran Helium companies.

Examples include:

SMART WASTE MANAGEMENT - Vastum by Heliotics, based out of Slovakia, provides businesses and municipalities with smart waste management solutions to track key metrics, optimize operations, and generate notifications.

Roof Leak Detection - Roof Tec, a roofing service provider, utilizes humidity sensors to detect leak events in client installations. Alerts are configured to notify the business so it can send a roofer to investigate and evaluate any problems.

Smart Radiator Valves - Cosmos IoT provides smart radiator monitoring, commissioned by the Municipality of Schagen, utilizing temperature sensors to reduce unnecessary energy consumption.

Food Safety and Compliance - Food Safe Systems deploys food safety compliance systems that use temperature sensors to simplify and automate temperature controls and alerting. This helps protect against food loss, reducing waste and associated costs.

Carbon Sequestration - Air temperature, air humidity, soil moisture, soil temperature, soil electrical conductivity, light, and CO2 collected by Seeed Studio SenseCAP LoRAWAN sensors are used to track carbon sequestration efforts and understand the role of green spaces in mitigating climate change. In Santa Ana and Irvine Region Park, this is being used to onboard regional parks into the carbon market in projects with Natural Capital Crypto.

Smart City Heat Island Monitoring - Environmental and weather data is used to identify and monitor heat islands in the city of Cagliari, Italy with Abinsula, WiData, and Seeed Studio. This data is used for university research on urban heat island mitigation systems, and for the administration to plan green areas and enforce light-colored building facades in key areas.

Data Transfer Oracles

Helium Data Transfer Oracles were activated on the network on March 22nd. These Oracles are specifically designed to deliver Helium IoT data received by Hotspots to a LoRaWAN Network Server (LNS) and store routing and regional information. The Oracles increase the reliability and performance of the Helium IoT network by allowing data transfer to continue, even in the event of a blockchain outage.

OpenLNS Initiative

In conjunction with the implementation of Helium Data Transfer Oracles, Helium Console is being phased out as part of the OpenLNS initiative. While Helium network data users today must use the Helium Console, the OpenLNS initiative will remove this restriction, further decentralizing the network by making the Helium IoT network compatible with any LNS compliant with LoRaWAN specifications on the Helium IoT network, opening up the ecosystem. Network users and IoT solutions providers can then use any LNS that best supports their needs. This redesign will directly increase speed, reliability, and scalability for IoT network data users while unlocking new features such as ABP activation and support for LoRaWAN Class C devices, which are always ready to receive data and respond.

To learn more about Helium's OpenLNS initiative and some of the community IoT solutions providers taking advantage of OpenLNS, visit Helium Docs OpenLNS page.

IoT Proof-of-Coverage Development

This quarter, Helium moved to a network architecture that also utilizes Helium Oracles for Proof-of-Coverage. Since the implementation of Proof-of-Coverage Oracles, the Helium Hotspots have experienced more consistent beaconing and witnessing activity, with more reliable rewards on average. Currently, healthy Hotspots can expect to beacon roughly 2-3 times a day, with each beacon receiving a maximum of 14 witnesses. This rate is set to provide a safety margin to prevent Helium Validators from being overloaded with data. After Helium moved onto the Solana blockchain, Solana's high-performance validators, in conjunction with Helium Oracles, handle the load of Helium's on-chain activity and Proof-of-Coverage data, which may open up room to further increase the rate of Hotspot beacons and maximum witness count. Implementation of Data Transfer Accounting Oracles is well underway with full implementation expected by the end of Q2.

Q1 also marks the beginning of the Helium community's IoT Proof-of-Coverage working group. The group consists of community members that meet weekly to work on Helium Improvement Proposals focused on Helium's IoT Proof-of-Coverage. This community-led effort has already started outlining and developing ideas for much of Proof-of-Coverage's future.

Community Tools

One of Helium's greatest strengths is its community. We see this very clearly in the number of useful tools the community has developed for Hotspot owners, network users, analytics, and more. Here we highlight some new features of a few of the many resources built by and for Helium's community.

Several Helium Foundation grantees have also made major progress in delivering open-source, public tools. NoWi Sensors, an early Helium Foundation grantee, has published a Helium coverage checker tool that can be used to quickly and easily check if any location has adequate Helium coverage for deploying sensors.

Emergo Technologies has recently published its deliverables for a LoRa-only position determination system. Their Helium LoRa-positioning API and related packages build the framework for any Helium IoT network data user to geolocate their transmitting devices using the signal characteristics of the transmissions and receiving Hotspots, without the need for on-device GPS.

Crowdspot, which the Helium community has used to analyze suspicious Hotspots, received several major updates in Q1. Community submission reviewers received new detection methods and automated trust scores for Hotspots as well as new streamlined tools to increase the efficiency of the submission review process.

The Helium Mobile Network

The first quarter of 2023 brings some exciting new changes to Helium's Mobile network. Network radio growth continues to remain strong, as Helium core developers continue to add new features and tools for the Mobile network.

In the past three months, Helium core developers prepared Helium radios to support carrier aggregation, which will double their throughput. Mobile network Proof-of-Coverage has also continued to gain new features intended to further incentivize valuable radio deployments.

How Do We Define Success?

While the last Protocol Report (2022) measured the total number of Mobile Hotspots on the Helium Network, we will be measuring the number of heartbeating Mobile radios in the future. We believe that this metric, which tracks radios that are actively alive and connecting, represents a more accurate picture of the size of the Helium Mobile network at any given time. In addition, a single Hotspot may have multiple radios.

Network Buildout:

  • Number of units providing coverage on the 5G network and % growth over time.
  • Number of US cities building out the network with 5G coverage.

Network Usage:

The Helium network's first mobile carrier is expected to start providing service utilizing the Mobile network this year. Once live, we expect to track:

  • Percentage of overall subscriber data transferred by people-built coverage.
  • Messages purchased by service providers.

Helium's Mobile Network Buildout Continues

During the first quarter of 2023, many new manufacturers and businesses have been building on the Mobile network. This quarter we welcomed new Mobile Hotspots from some veteran Helium manufacturers: Linxdot and Nebra.

Since the last Protocol Report, over 150 cities have gained Helium radios, bringing the total city count to about 1630 (roughly a 9% increase). Helium radio growth numbers remain strong, and, with this new hardware on the Horizon, we look forward to Hotspot deployers having even more options. The numbers below represent heartbeating Helium radios on the network.

Total Online Radios1 Month Change2 Month Change3 Month Change
7,4657,320 (+2.0%)7,032 (+6.2%)6,787 (+10.0%)

The Helium Mobile Network


MOBILE Proof-of-Coverage

Helium's Proof-of-Coverage algorithms are a critical part of incentivizing network buildout in a way that is efficient and useful. While the buildout of the Mobile network will look different than that of Helium's Mobile Network, Proof-of-Coverage is no less important. One of the highlights of Q1 has been the continued evolution of the Mobile Network's Proof-of-Coverage algorithm and the establishment of a Mobile Proof-of-Coverage Working Group from the community.

Modeled Coverage

The Mobile network has different coverage goals than Helium's IoT network. Whereas the IoT network is built for low-bandwidth, long-range applications, the Mobile network is built for high-bandwidth usage. In most efficient deployment scenarios, Mobile radios should be spread out to cover wider, unserved areas, rather than providing overlapping, redundant coverage. Thus, Helium Mobile radios usually will not be within overlapping range of each other and cannot verify coverage for other radios in the same way that Helium's IoT Hotspots do. Different strategies are needed in order to incentivize an efficient buildout of the Mobile network.

Over time, Mobile radios have gone from being rewarded for heartbeating to being required to pass backhaul speed tests. HIP 74, which was passed by the Helium community in January, lays the groundwork for rewarding Helium radios for actual coverage provided by specifying a framework by which coverage would be measured and rewarded. HIP 74 also introduces a new Mobile PoC reward algorithm, called Modeled Coverage, that uses the characteristics of the radio, location data, and environmental data to model the estimated coverage provided by radios. This information is visualized in the Modeled Coverage Explorer and is also useful for helping radio owners optimize their installations and locations.

Mobile rewards will start using Modeled Coverage shortly after Helium's migration onto Solana.

Network Usage & Performance

As Helium's Mobile network continues to grow, mature, and evolve, the value proposition of participating in the Helium network increases for wireless carriers. Helium Mobile, the first service provider to join, announced that it would launch its closed beta in the second quarter of 2023. We expect the launch of the first MVNO on the Mobile network to provide critical real-world stress-testing and feedback, ensuring that the network built by the community will be reliable and resilient.

Helium Foundation

The Helium Foundation continues to remain dedicated to supporting and stewarding the Helium Network through grants, education, governance support, and development work. To support its mission, the Helium Foundation roughly doubled its personnel over the last quarter and gained Arman Dezfuli-Arjomandi, a longtime Helium community member, as a Board Director. Here are some of our Helium Foundation highlights from Q1 of 2023.

Solana Migration

After the Helium community voted to move the Helium Network onto Solana through HIP 70 in September 2022, the Strata Protocol team joined the Helium Foundation to lead the development work of migrating the entire Helium Network. All of Helium's Solana smart contracts are open-source and available on GitHub. Helium's smart contracts were audited by sec3, a Solana security firm, and all identified issues have been resolved. The Helium Foundation team will work with partners like sec3 as Helium's smart contracts are updated to ensure their continued security.

Tremendous amounts of work from the Helium community went into preparing for the Helium migration. Helium Hotspot manufacturers tested and transitioned their Hotspot fleets over to using Helium Oracles for processing Proof-of-Coverage and Data Transfer. Manufacturers also prepared their Hotspot management apps to interface with Solana and the Helium Oracles in conjunction with the Helium Wallet app, which became a Solana Wallet after the Solana migration. Helium ecosystem businesses started spinning up Helium Open LNS instances to support the Helium IoT network.

After many months of work and preparation from Helium's core developers, Helium's community, and folks from all over the ecosystem, Helium completed its migration to Solana in April. To support the Helium ecosystem through this transition, the Helium Foundation has been heavily prioritizing educational resources, from leading a major overhaul of Helium-Solana information on the Helium Docs to hosting community AMAs and weekly Solana migration technical support office hours. The Helium Foundation will continue to produce resources to support all corners of the Helium ecosystem in this transition, so keep an eye on the Helium Docs, Discord, Twitter, and more to keep learning about the Helium Network's new home and how we fit in!

Helium and the Solana Ecosystem

As we land on Solana, Helium is able to take full advantage of the composability of the Solana ecosystem and has already partnered with many Solana projects to support the migration. Some of the smart contract capabilities implemented in Helium include:

  1. Clockwork - An open-source automation engine for the Solana blockchain. Developers can use Clockwork to schedule transactions and automate smart contracts without relying on centralized infrastructure. Helium uses Clockwork to automate the awarding of HNT to IoT and Mobile subnetworks.
  2. Helius - A Solana development optimization service through RPC provisioning, API building, and webhooks. Helium uses Helius for APIs, monitoring, and more.
  3. Jupiter - A key liquidity aggregator for Solana, offering a wide range of tokens and route discovery between token pairs. The Helium Wallet app has a Jupiter integration to help users get rates for token swaps.
  4. Pyth - These Oracles can be used by on-chain programs in consuming real-world data for a variety of use cases. Helium uses Pyth to write HNT price information to the blockchain, allowing for Helium Data Credits to be priced in USD.
  5. Switchboard - A generalized, community-curated oracle network designed to incentivize bringing the long tail of data on-chain. Helium's Solana programs use Switchboard to measure and incorporate device statistics into on-chain reward calculations.
  6. Realms - A platform for builders on Solana to create a DAO, manage their members, vote on proposals, and allocate their treasury. Helium's core developers worked closely with Realms to integrate Helium tokens and subnetwork delegation directly into Realms.

The added composability of being on Solana also means that building with Helium will be easier and more accessible, whether it's integrating Helium into DeFi applications or integrating Solana into Helium. We're beginning to see Solana projects increasingly choose to build on Helium. Solana projects such as:

  • Hivemapper - The world's first crypto-enabled dashcam represents a fundamental shift in how maps are built.
  • Baxus - A secure way to trade physical goods, such as wine and spirits.
  • Heliport - A decentralized wallet and device which are able to make payments and transactions on Solana through the IoT infrastructure of the Helium Network. Heliport won 1st place in the Solana Sandstorm Hackathon’s DeWi track.
  • DeviceLink - A beta data exchange platform developed using blockchain technology and the Helium Network.

Combining Helium and Solana opens up endless possibilities. Helium's newfound composability on Solana creates new opportunities for the Helium community and enables new blockchain applications built on Helium to be created.

2023 Grant Program

The Helium Foundation launched the 2023 Grant Program with several exciting new ways to support builders and community in the Helium ecosystem, with simplified application processes to make getting funding for meaningful development even easier!

One of the most notable changes to the program is the new Capital Partners opportunity. The Helium Foundation has partnered with a diverse range of venture capital firms, including Baukunst, Borderless Capital, Escape Velocity, Hivemind, Lattice, and Samsung NEXT, to help connect grantees and Helium ecosystem members to early stage capital and to guide promising projects built on Helium. The Helium Foundation grant team reviews and advises every application carefully to ensure that promising businesses align with each fund's focus.

Also, new this year are Helium community event grants. Folks who want to bring together their local Helium communities can now quickly and easily apply for funding and other support from the Helium Foundation to realize their vision of running a local Helium meetup or IoT workshop.

Besides these community event grants, Helium grant opportunities are coming in waves with targeted focus areas, otherwise known as Requests for Proposals. The first wave of grants awarded was aimed at making onboarding sensors onto the Helium Network faster and even more accessible. Stay tuned for additional targeted grant opportunities coming soon!

Recent Grants Awarded

  • Parley Labs was been awarded the first Helium grant of 2023! Their project will open source key management so that keys can be securely moved from owner to owner, enabling APIs for QR code scanning to load keys from a vendor directly into OpenLNS.
  • Disk 91 was awarded funding to build a New Helium Console using an open-source solution to link router services to Chirpstack LNS seamlessly. This will allow users to import and manage a device fleet easily and enables the Helium connectivity provider ecosystem.
  • Scott Livingston won a grant to create Interactive Docs About Onboarding Devices by building a TypeScript package for embedding complete, interactive examples with real devices that can be run from within the docs. This approach to crafting rich documentation could significantly level up the sensor onboarding process and make it easier to build IoT solutions on Helium.
  • Nik Hawks won a grant to build a LoRa to LoRaWAN repeater, an integrated board design that enables the reading of data from devices using LoRa and re-broadcasts it onto Helium’s LoRaWAN protocol. This opens up the doors for countless new device types to make onboarding to the Helium ecosystem even easier.

Q1 2023 Grant Highlights

  • NoWi Sensors released an easy-to-use, open-source Helium coverage checker that allows anyone to quickly estimate if they have usable Helium coverage in their area.
  • The Kanda Weather Group is working across African universities to build community-owned weather balloon networks. The redundancy and long range of the Helium Network allow these weather balloons to send back data from the troposphere, providing valuable data while in the air.
  • Grantee Emergo Technologies released code for a LoRa-only position determination system that enables users to geolocate their transmitting devices using the signal characteristics of transmissions and receiving Hotspots, without the need for on-device GPS.
  • Nik Hawks, the Gristle King, reflects on lessons learned and practical considerations as the People Counter project enters its final stretch.
  • IoT Off Grid released an open-source tracking platform as a deliverable for their grant’s final milestone.
  • The Calgary Space Foundation wrapped up its grant to test Helium as a ground station for satellite missions and produced a rich report on how Helium is a strong alternative connectivity option for space missions that the Foundation will share publicly in the near future.
  • Dave Akers completed another thorough Helium Data Analysis report and concluded the project since the successful Solana migration.

Top News in HIPs

HIP 69

Passed in February by the Helium community, HIP 69 will reduce the IoT Hotspot location reassertion fee from 1,000,000 Data Credits ($10 worth) to 500,000 Data Credits ($5) for the first three months after the migration to Solana.

HIP 74

HIP 74 specifies a framework for rewarding Mobile network radios for their coverage and introduces a Proof-of-Coverage reward algorithm for radios that incorporates location, environmental, and radio information to calculate MOBILE rewards for radios. HIP 74 was passed in January by the Helium community and will take effect soon after the migration to Solana.

HIP 75

In order to bridge the gap between the Mobile network's Genesis rewards period and the launch of Helium's subnetwork treasuries on Solana, HIP 75 was approved by the community in January. HIP 75 initiated programmatic minting of the MOBILE token on the Helium blockchain and adjusted the emissions curve for the MOBILE token to ensure MOBILE tokens would be available in the later stages of the Mobile network.

HIP 76

Helium's migration onto Solana is also accompanied by upgrades to Helium governance initially specified in HIP 51. To vote, Helium token holders can lock up tokens for a duration in order to gain proportional voting power. HIP 76 makes the relationship between HNT lockup duration and voting power gained proportional and linear while eliminating the minimum lockup period. This HIP also clarifies some of the rules for the veHNT landrush bonus, where HNT locked up shortly after the Solana migration receives 3X the amount of voting power it would otherwise. HIP 76 was approved by a Helium community vote in March.

HIP 77

In finalizing preparations for the Solana migration, Helium's core developers needed to set several key initial settings for Helium's smart contracts that were only appropriate to be adjusted by governance. These included variables such as token decimal points, initial governance settings, price oracles, and emergency circuit breaker settings. These parameters were specified through HIP 77, which was approved by a community vote.

Looking ahead...

As the Helium Network continues to make great strides towards its mission of decentralizing wireless connectivity and empowering its community to own, operate, and govern the network, we will be here to help keep you informed of all of the exciting Helium news.

Expect updates on the following:

  • Helium's continuing integration into the Solana ecosystem and cross-project collaborations.
  • Even greater evolutions of Proof-of-Coverage for both the IoT and Mobile subnetworks.
  • Helium Foundation grants to accelerate the adoption of all Helium networks.
  • New features for Helium IoT, including LoRaWAN Class C device support and Helium LoRaWAN infrastructure improvements.
  • The formalization of the role of Service Providers for the Mobile subnetwork.

The next quarterly Protocol Report (Q2) will land in August. See you then!