Helium’s “LongFi” network will compete with existing dedicated IoT networks

One of the co-founders of the music-streaming website Napster is launching a long-range Wi-Fi network for internet of things-based services in Europe, in an attempt to break the stranglehold of the traditional telecoms sector. Helium, the Silicon Valley-based company behind the new network, was set up by Napster co-founder Shawn Fanning and former British professional video gamer Amir Haleem in 2013, but only launched its low-power network in Austin, Texas in August last year. It has since expanded to 1,000 cities in North America and launches in Europe this week. Unlike a traditional network operator, Helium, which uses the “LoRaWAN” long range standard, sells individual “hotspots” at a cost of €450 to consumers who agree to put the boxes in their windows. The hotspot owner then takes a cut of any revenue made through the use of the network, and the device also mines Helium’s in-house cryptocurrency. Helium argues it can cover an entire city with between 50 and 100 hotspots… Helium’s “LongFi” network will compete with existing dedicated internet of things networks from companies including SigFox and Vodafone. The start-up has received $51 million in funding from Google’s GV, Khosla Partners and Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce, among other funds. 

Nic Fildes