How does The Peoples Network, from the organization Helium, work?

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How does The Peoples Network, from the organization Helium, work?

In: Technology
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The basic idea is to build a peer-to-peer network. Traditionally networks are centralized, such as with cellular phones. All the phones talk to a nearby cell tower, which in turn is connected to the infrastructure in a regional network center operated by the cellular company. That network center then connects to an internet backbone to communicate to the rest of the world.

A peer-to-peer network instead just has individual devices talk to similar devices nearby. They form an interconnected web of short range links through which long distance communication can occur by passing messages down the chain.

At least in theory. Some major issues this concept has is that without a central authority planning, building, and maintaining the network there is no guarantee you will be able to reach a desired destination. If nobody is operating a compatible device there can easily be areas the network simply doesn’t reach. Another issue is that congestion can be a big problem; imagine you have two areas of connected people communicating but they are only linked together through a few nodes. Those nodes are going to be overloaded with traffic and performance will suffer.

So, why would anyone make the effort to do this? In the past one of the major benefits of such a network setup is that it is decentralized and outside of the control of governments. A bunch of people in a crowd of protesters can still communicate even if the government disables the cell towers. Or maybe the infrastructure just doesn’t exist, like if you are parasailing and being within radio range of a few other people that will relay for you can vastly increase your effective radio range.

In this case their gimmick is to allow people to earn a crypto currency by relaying data, rewarding them for building and maintaining the network without actually spending any of their real money.