Helium founder: Nova Labs supports a decentralized internet Helium founder: Nova Labs supports a decentralized internet

Helium founder: Nova Labs supports a decentralized internet

We spoke to the Chief Operating Officer of Nova Labs about the Helium network, its issues and what's next for decentralized internet networking

Helium founder: Nova Labs supports a decentralized internet

Cover art/illustration via CryptoSlate. Image includes combined content which may include AI-generated content.

We recently caught up with Helium Chief Operating Officer Frank Mong to talk about the future of decentralized internet networking. Nova Labs, formerly Helium Inc, recently received $200 million in funding at a $1.2 billion valuation. The Helium network has had the fastest rollout of a global wireless network in history. Mong details his love of the project declaring

“The Helium Network is proof of the incredible feats everyday people can accomplish when you come together under a shared mission.”

Mong also answers questions on the falling HNT rewards, network outages, competitions from other LoRaWAN networks, and the future of the Helium network.

Akiba: What does Helium mean to you? Not the elevator pitch, not the corporate response. What does Helium mean to you as an individual?

Frank Mong: The Helium Network is a culmination of nearly a decade of sheer hard work, and I see it as a project that will continue to grow and evolve to serve whatever wireless protocol comes our way five, ten, or 30 years from now.

It hasn’t been an easy journey—Amir founded Nova Labs (formerly Helium Inc.) along with Shawn Fanning and Sean Carey back in 2013, and I joined the team in 2017. Building a wireless network is traditionally very time-and-cost-intensive, and we struggled initially. It wasn’t until 2017 that we thought maybe there was a way we could use crypto to solve our cold-start problems.

In 2019 we launched the Helium Network with this crazy idea to reward everyday people with crypto to deploy Hotspots, and it just took off. Today we’re the fastest-growing wireless Network in history, with 800,000+ Hotspots in 60,000 cities worldwide. There are no words to describe the overwhelming amount of joy and gratitude we have towards our community—we launched an idea, and they made it into something incredible. To me, the Helium Network is proof of the incredible feats everyday people can accomplish when you come together under a shared mission.

Akiba: Why does the world need the Helium network?

Frank Mong: Wireless connectivity is simply inaccessible to most of the world. The Helium Network circumvents the billion-dollar costs and slow infrastructure that traditional telcos need in order to expand coverage around the country. This is critical because having access to the internet matters more than ever before.

Being connected means access to education, work, and staying in touch with friends and families worldwide. By putting the power of connectivity in the hands of everyday people, we’re able to democratize access – while allowing people to participate and benefit from an industry that’s historically been in the hands of the few.

Akiba: There has been some disquiet among the community in recent months regarding stability and rewards. How do you feel about the state of the Network?

Frank Mong: The Helium Network is the fastest-growing Network in history, and that kind of growth inevitably comes with scalability pains. Our focus at Nova Labs is on pioneering decentralized wireless networks, and we’ve continued to see the Helium Network accelerate at an unprecedented pace.

Akiba: What would you say to community members who feel that rewards have dropped to a point they are considering leaving?

Frank Mong: We should do a better job articulating expectations from mining and usage of the Network. Rewards come from both. As the Network of Hotspots grows, it’s essential for folks to understand that over time, APY should hopefully stabilize, and usage of the Network becomes a primary driver for rewards. We are in the early stages of use, and as that grows, I believe focusing on usage rewards will drive the next wave of the Helium ecosystem.

Akiba: What are your thoughts on other similar networks such as Planetwatch? Do these help the Helium network grow?

Frank Mong: Helium is supportive of a decentralized internet. To achieve our mission, the Helium Network has to be truly open-sourced. Therefore, our perspective on what constitutes competition isn’t necessarily other players in this space but rather the current status quo. Our core mission is to build the most ubiquitous, low-cost Network possible — and to achieve that; we can’t do it alone.

Akiba: What do the next 12 months have in store for Helium after the recent investment?

Frank Mong: It’s been three years since the first IoT network was launched. Since then, it’s been a rollercoaster of constant improvement, learning, and celebrating both the small and huge wins. The next 12 months will see massive new additions to Helium 5G along with the emergence of new applications leveraging the Network every day.

Akiba: Can you give us any hints at any upcoming developments we may not be aware of?

Frank Mong: I don’t want to spoil any surprises, but keep your eyes peeled for the next Helium 5G milestones and more usage of the current IoT network.