HomeCarriersSenet agrees US roaming with blockchain-based LoRaWAN provider Helium

Senet agrees US roaming with blockchain-based LoRaWAN provider Helium

LoRaWAN operator Senet has agreed a US-based roaming deal with peer-to-peer LoRaWAN operator Helium. The deal follows its announcement last week it is offering integration services with third-party LoRaWAN networks, alongside wholesale LoRaWAN plans for US cellular operators.

Hotspot maker Helium, which runs its so-called ‘people’s network’ on a blockchain platform, as a ‘cryptographic notary’ for IoT data comms, claims to connect 175,000 LoRaWAN hotspots across the US, each owned by private individuals. The new arrangement means Senet’s IoT customers can make use of the Helium network, as well; for Helium’s hotspot operators, it promises more network traffic.

Senet said customers are already running “high density” IoT applications for asset tracking, supply chain monitoring, environmental monitoring, and smart city services; they are processing “well over one billion” transactions on its network annually, it said. Its new ‘extended coverage’ offering has seen new partnerships with unnamed operators, vendors, and infrastructure providers. Senet claims the only “national, public, carrier-grade” LoRaWAN network in the US, in 29 states and 1,300-odd cities.

Helium’s business model means accumulated data transfer and ‘proof-of-coverage’ transactions earn hotspot owners HNT cryptocurrency for their parts in the Helium network. Helium sells LoRaWAN hotspots, to be integrated into its public LoRaWAN network, and pays owners for carrying data, adding blocks to its blockchain, and performing various other tasks.

Transaction data including connectivity time and location is stamped on the blockchain, and therefore immutable and inspectable. IoT customers pay for usage of Helium’s network; unlike with standard private LoRaWAN setups, they are not required to deploy gateways or network servers themselves. When connected to a hotspot, a ‘proof of coverage’ is delivered, triggering a Helium Network Token (HNT), Helium’s native cryptocurrency.

This HNT stamp uses a gateway-embedded miner, and grants coverage for hundreds of miles. The idea is to decentralise IoT coverage, resulting in an open wireless (‘people’s) network that is available cheaply anywhere, including outside the US. The service targets low-power sensors and devices such as animal collars and bicycle trackers, among other IoT cases.

Confusingly, the press statement says Helium’s network has expanded to over 175,000 hotspots in 2021; the same number it suggests the new roaming deal gives Senet access to in the US alone. The statement says Helium’s global network has expanded from 7,000 hotspots in 2020, and now works in 15,000 cities in 123 countries. It also claims it has more than 500,000 hotspots back-ordered, waiting to come online, plus over 50 new manufacturers waiting to be approved to build Helium-compatible hardware.

Bruce Chatterley, chief executive at Senet, said: “Helium created a unique and complementary business model for deploying LoRaWAN networks and the combination of extended network coverage and the potential economic incentive of HNT puts Senet and the Helium in a leading position to move the market a step closer to pervasive low power wide area network coverage for IoT applications throughout the US.”

Amir Haleem, co-founder and chief executive at Helium, said: “This is an exciting announcement for the industry. The roaming integration with Senet is made possible by the Helium blockchain and brings together two of the fastest- growing LoRaWAN networks in the United States, delivering a significant opportunity for our Hotspot owners to benefit from the rapidly growing IoT services economy.”

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