3 minutes

How Hedera Can Bring the Helium Network to Scale Fairly & Transparently

Published By
Rob Allen
September 20, 2022

Helium, “The People’s Network”, is a distributed network made up of long-range wireless hotspots, with the goal of establishing a blockchain-powered network for IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Users that provide reliable wireless coverage to the network are rewarded with the HNT token. 

So far, Helium has been operating this network of devices on its own layer 1 (L1) network. However, as network demand has increased, scaling issues have become apparent. Like all high throughput networks in Web3, speed, security, decentralization, and sustainability are necessary to scale.

The recent HIP-70 (Helium Improvement Proposal) suggested that the network leverage the Solana blockchain as a scaling solution. However, as we outline in this blog and in our own HIP with the Helium community, we believe that Hedera is the better option.

The Hedera network currently supports 10,000 TPS (throttled) per shard. This number can be lifted to meet demand. Alongside this, each Hedera shard is aBFT secure (the gold standard for a consensus algorithm), leaderless, decentralized, and upholds the credentials of the greenest DLT in the industry, as demonstrated by University College London (UCL). 

To future-proof the Helium network, the qualities mentioned above are basic requirements. Additionally, by moving to Hedera, Helium will benefit from fixed fees and strong and stable network governance, as well as transparency in data reporting and rewards distribution. 

Fees on the Hedera network are not only near negligible with the HCS $0.0001/tx and HTS $0.001/tx on average but they are also pegged to the dollar. Unlike other networks, this means that fees do not fluctuate with the price of the native token. This ensures much-needed stability and enables users to accurately calculate fees.

Stable governance is at the heart of Hedera. No single entity can significantly influence the direction of the network by acquiring a large number of tokens. Rather, each industry-leading council member has an equal vote for the duration of their 2, 3-year terms. The council operates transparently and under agreed terms of reference as well as proper recording and governance procedures.

In order to encourage hotspots to transmit as powerfully and with as much coverage as possible, they are required to ‘beacon’ (i.e. report) to as many as 25 other hotspots that will report back as witnesses. Witnessing validates the coverage another Helium hotspot provides and shows that it is doing its job and should therefore be rewarded.

On Hedera, hotspots can send their beacon report periodically to the Hedera Consensus Service (HCS). The hotspots can also submit witness reports to HCS directly. By reporting these events immutably and with finality directly on-chain, transparency and decentralization are increased and overall friction is lowered. 

By again leveraging the Hedera Consensus Service (HCS) with the proposed move from validators to oracles - the HCS can be used to improve rewards calculation, distribution, and verification.

For a more thorough analysis of why Hedera would be the best Layer 1 option for Helium, you can read and interact with the in-depth HIP created by the Helium community and Swirlds Labs dev team ‘Scaling the Helium Network - Transparently’. 

To see how Helium and Hedera would complement each other in practice, Greg Scullard (Developer Advocate, Swirlds) has created a Proof of Concept that you can watch here - starting at 3:57. 

If you’re a developer or member of the Helium/Hedera communities, we’d love to hear your feedback on the proposed HIP. You can also learn more about Hedera in this Reddit post where we would love to continue the discussion.