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San Jose Partnership Will Mine Cryptocurrency from Helium Hotspots to Benefit Low Income Residents

Phillip Dampier October 5, 2021 Public Policy & Gov't, Wireless Broadband No Comments

A public-private partnership between the city of San Jose, Helium, and the California Emerging Technology Fund will install 20 Helium-compatible IoT Hotspots that will deliver limited internet connectivity, mine cryptocurrency, and convert the proceeds into prepaid debit cards for low-income residents to subsidize the cost of home internet service.

The program, currently in a six-month trial, is expected to return enough cryptocurrency proceeds to provide a $120 one-time debit card to each of over 1,300 low income residents in the city.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said the program was “one of many innovative public-private partnership models that we’re advancing to bridge the digital divide for residents.”

Unlike traditional Wi-Fi hotspots that provide wireless internet connectivity, the Helium Hotspot uses a “Long-Fi” radio signal and routes packets from low-power devices in an area that use LoRaWAN and have been deployed to the Helium Network. Typically these are devices such as GPS trackers, environmental sensors, weather meters, etc., that only need to transmit and share small bits of information. The Hotspot uses an existing internet connection (via Wi-Fi or Ethernet) to deliver the data packets sent by devices. It does not replace internet or cellular service for regular devices like computers and smartphones.

Unlike traditional cryptocurrency mining computers, Helium’s hotspots do not consume large amounts of electricity. Each hotspot on the network uses approximately 5 watts and transmits and receives an average of less than two megabytes of data per month. The city of San Jose expects to utilize the network for certain city “Internet of Things” low data traffic applications such as air quality monitoring, fire detection, water leakage, and climate-related data.

There are tens of thousands of consumers who also own and deploy Helium-compatible hotspots to mine cryptocurrency as part of a passive income strategy.

Although San Jose’s partnership with Helium will not directly provide internet service, the proceeds earned from mining cryptocurrency will help reduce the cost of internet service for some city residents. Helium has a network of approximately 200,000 active hotspots supporting a myriad of IoT applications, from agricultural monitoring, weather and buoy data, and even one application that returns information about the amount of dryer lint accumulating in an apartment complex’s laundry room.

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Stop the Cap!