Helium devs propose ditching its own blockchain for Solana

The transition to Solana would improve network scalability, which in turn would bring “significant economies of scale” to the network, according to Helium core devs.

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Internet of Things (IoT) blockchain network Helium could transition to the Solana blockchain following a new HIP 70 governance proposal launched on Aug. 30. 

The Helium core developers said the need to “improve operational efficiency and scalability” was required in order to bring “significant economies of scale” to the network.

The Helium network operates by users installing a Helium Hotspot to provide decentralized wireless 5G network coverage for internet users in their area. Helium uses a unique consensus mechanism — proof-of-coverage to verify network connectivity and distribute HNT tokens to Helium Hotspot providers when coverage is verified.

The proposal comes as Helium developers have emphasized the need to fix a number of technical issues in order to improve the network’s capabilities:

In the last several months of the network, both have been challenging for network participants with much reduced Proof-of-Coverage activity due to network size and blockchain/validator load, and packet delivery issues.

The HIP 70 proposal has been put forward to improve these data transfer and network coverage abilities, according to the Helium GitHub page.

If passed, Helium-based HNT, IOT, and MOBILE tokens and Data Credits (DCs) would also be transferred to the Solana blockchain.

The network's HNT tokens are earned by hotspot providers, IOT tokens are earned by node operators that provide the LoRaWAN network, MOBILE tokens are earned when 5G coverage is provided, and DCs are used to pay transaction fees.

Since its creation in 2013, the Helium network has operated on its own blockchain. “The Hotspot” podcast host Arman Dezfuli-Arjomandi stated in several Twitter posts that “Ethereum was too slow” and “other alternatives [at the time] weren’t all that appealing”.

“Helium needed to build its own Blockchain when the protocol first started as “there was no blockchain that this could have been built on that existed at the time.”

But despite nearly one million Helium Hotspots deployed worldwide and being backed by the likes of Google Ventures, the network hasn’t come without criticisms.

Related: Helium network team resolves consensus error after 4-hour outage

Last month, entrepreneur Liron Shapira criticized the network for its “complete lack of end-user demand” following the news that the network was only generating $6,500 per month from data usage revenue, despite raising over $350 million.

The Helium network also experienced a four-hour outage, which affected the ability for HNT token holders to exchange their tokens and prevented Helium Hotspot miners from receiving rewards.

Community reacts positively

Many members of the Helium community have responded to HIP 70 with positive sentiment, who are of the view that the integration into Solana will benefit developers tremendously.

Ryan Bethencourt, Partner of Web3 backer Layer One Ventures told his 16,000 Twitter followers that the proposal is "huge" for Helium and Solana should the recommendation be approved. 

Another Twitter user called the combination "simply mind blowing."

The HIP 70 vote is scheduled for Sept. 12, which will be made available for HNT token holders on heliumvote.com. Voting will end on Sept. 18.

The news does not appear to have positively impacted the price of the HNT token which is currently priced at $5.23, down 15.5% over the last 48 hours.

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