Justin Giuliano, JAG’s Founder and CEO, Discusses the Helium Network & JAG’s Roadmap at EDGE: Series

On September 8th, 2021, JAG’s Founder and CEO, Justin Giuliano, had the opportunity to discuss blockchain technology, the Helium Network, and JAG’s position within the industry at an EDGE: Series 2021 event hosted by the Government Business Executive Forum (GBEF). Check out some highlights from Justin’s speech below or scroll to the bottom to view his presentation in its entirety. 

EDGE: Series 2021 by GBEF

The Government Business Executive Forum (GBEF) is a “prestigious network of experienced, senior professionals who specialize in innovative technology applications to vital government missions.” Their EDGE events offer opportunities for industry leaders and government officials to discuss forthcoming developments in technology. JAG’s Founder and CEO, Justin Giuliano, was invited to speak about JAG, Helium, IoT, and much more at their “Cyber 2021: Protecting Digital Assets and Critical Infrastructure” event on Sept. 8th. Read on for a recap of Justin’s speech and some key insights into the future of the Helium Network and JAG.

Centralization vs Decentralization

“I bet you no one here balances their checkbook like back in the nineties, right? You probably don't know exactly, to the penny, how much is in your bank account at this very moment.” - Justin Giuliano (J.G.) 

At this point, most of us understand that blockchain technology provides a means for decentralizing data into distributed ledgers. Each blockchain network relies on decentralized nodes that act as “mini data centers” which can be dispersed across the world. Whether it’s cryptocurrencies or IoT sensor data, these decentralized networks offer much greater security by eliminating the single fail points associated with centralization.

For example, if your Wells Fargo account was hacked today, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the bank exactly how much money you had before the security breach. You’d have to fully trust Wells Fargo to have an accurate accounting of your personal ledger.

Blockchain essentially removes that need for “trust” by distributing your ledger across the thousands or millions of nodes within a decentralized framework. Each node has a confirmed and immutable record of the ledger in question. It’s the same reason you should avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket and should always keep an extra backup of your hard drive. 

“It's immutable. You can't change it. You can't go back in time. Once it's confirmed, it's confirmed. That's the benefit of blockchain, especially with cryptocurrencies.” - J.G. 

Public Blockchain vs Private Blockchain

“Private blockchain provides a lot of benefits… shared resourcing, development time, increased trust among the group. But trust is also the main kill point for private blockchain. You need to trust everyone that's in that consortium. Whereas, with public blockchain, that trust is shared among thousands and thousands of people.” - J.G. 

The trade-offs between public and private blockchain networks typically involve speed and trust. In both cases, a ledger of data is distributed amongst the participants in the network. Any changes to that ledger need to be confirmed by a certain number of nodes or participants in order for them to be accepted.

With a private blockchain, there are fewer nodes that are required to reach a consensus on the new data that’s been altered or added to the distributed ledger. Generally speaking, that makes things move faster. At the same time, a private blockchain consortium suffers from a need for trust between its members. This is because there are basically fewer eyes on the prize, so to speak. It’s harder for data to be corrupted when thousands of nodes can confirm their legitimacy.

On the other hand, a public blockchain network like Bitcoin suffers from slow transaction times. That’s because every single transaction that’s ever occurred with Bitcoin since its start in 2008 is a part of the same distributed ledger. The more transactions that take place on the network, the more computing power is required to reach a consensus for each block. Block consensus, or confirmation of new transactions, is achieved through a process called “mining” via “proof of work”. And that’s why people think of huge data centers with heavy environmental impacts when they think of Bitcoin mining.  

The Helium “Mesh” Network

“Not a lot of power, not a lot of noise. Not a lot of bandwidth. Very low amounts of data. This is the Helium Hotspot miner… Essentially, this is the new data center right here. This is it. The size of a deck of cards and it uses less energy than a five-watt light bulb” - J.G. 

The Helium Network’s solution to the slowness of public blockchains is to create a “mesh” network for LoRaWAN IoT devices that relies on “proof of coverage” rather than “proof of work”. Without delving too far into the details of these varying mining protocols, you can basically think of “proof of coverage” as establishing the active presence of each node within a network.

Each Helium Hotspot acts as a “mini data center” that communicates via radio signals to other hotspots and IoT sensors. The data that’s transmitted is then confirmed and recorded on the Helium blockchain through a shared consensus. When thousands of these hotspots are deployed across a city, it creates a type of “mesh network”. 

“It's essentially draping a net over a city. And then every connection point in that net is a node and you're creating a citywide mesh network. And Helium is doing that on a global scale.” - J.G. 

The communication between these hotspots and the blockchain confirmations associated with them is both fast and scalable. That’s because the Helium Network (for IoT devices) is a LoRaWAN (low-powered wide area network). It’s built to transmit small packets of data from IoT devices across wide areas. And unlike with Bitcoin, the more nodes (or hotspots) there are in the Helium Network, the more efficiently that data can be transmitted. 

“Low packets are sent through this. So think of kilobytes of data being shipped across the network, not gigabytes or megabytes of data. Very small amounts of data, i.e. temperature of the room; did that door open or close?; things like that.” - J.G. 

How Can the Helium Network Be Used?

“Right now, if you were a scooter company and you wanted to track every single one of your scooters that are out in the field making you money, you would need a SIM card; A 5G, 4G, LTE backhaul SIM card put in every single one of those scooters, right? So what you would need to do essentially is buy a data plan for each scooter, maybe $60-$100 a month per scooter.

If the scooters are not being used, it's just sitting there. You’re just wasting money as a company, losing a lot of money. Helium uses a totally different type of sensor. No SIM card is needed because it's a citywide mesh network. So what Helium does is that scooter company now can buy what's called data credits from Helium. And then for connectivity, every time that scooter is used, you only expend the data credit for that transaction. You don't have to worry about that $100 a month data plan per scooter.” - J.G.

Anyone can join the Helium Network and start earning HNT (the Helium token) by installing a hotspot in their residence(s) or building(s). In order to actually use the “mesh network” that’s created by these hotspots, companies with IoT sensor devices can purchase Helium data credits to pay for the data that gets uploaded to the blockchain.

In the example above, Justin discusses a scenario in which a smart scooter company like Bird or Lime could install Helium-enabled IoT sensors in their devices and then selectively pay for the data that’s been uploaded. This essentially removes the need for idle or unused data plans offered by most centralized wireless communication companies. It also has the dual benefit of stabilizing the price of the Helium token through the constant conversion of fiat currency into HNT in order to purchase data credits on the network. 

What is JAG’s Position Within the Helium Network and Beyond?

“So at JAG, what we're trying to do here is expand IoT solutions with the helium network by leveraging essentially best in class partners, whether it be the biggest or best of breed in the telecom industry. And we're focusing on locations, so the more locations we can get for these nodes, the better. Right now, there are about 160,000 nodes across the world. When I first started this little project here, there were only maybe 2000 of these nodes across the world.”

“We have proprietary technologies such as an online portal for our customers and an admin portal and investor portal building on a sensor management application for our sensors. And we use professional install crews to go and install these units, whether it's in the field, in commercial spaces, in the government space, or maybe multiple franchises. We're using professional crews to do that. And we also have a model where we ship direct-to-consumer.” - J.G. 

At JAG, we’re currently focused on three main areas of growth: Helium Coverage, IoT Sensor Solutions, and 5G. As Justin mentioned above, JAG is one of the leading Helium partners using global professional installation crews to rapidly expand the reach of the Helium network around the world. We’ve also partnered with major telecom companies, hotspot device manufacturers, and IoT sensor manufacturers to create the most efficient Helium infrastructure implementation strategy possible.

At the same time, we offer Helium Hotspots for free to consumers hoping to install these devices in their home(s) or building(s). In exchange for the free device, we share a commission on the HNT that each hotspot earns. Our hosting partnerships include month-to-month contract, free returns, and the ability for consumers to avoid the 6+month long waitlists that are currently in place for most hotspot manufacturers. You can learn more about our direct-to-consumer program here.

To be clear, JAG isn’t simply a Helium Hotspot or cryptocurrency-mining company. We’re also developing IoT sensor solutions at a global scale. We’re focused on creating innovative and efficient sensor solutions for “asset tracking, leak detection, home security, agriculture, hospitality, health care, and more.” And our solutions are all platform agnostic, meaning our technology can work with AWS IoT, Microsoft Azure IoT, Digital Ocean, or any other platform that our potential clients hope to use.

Lastly, JAG is working closely with Helium and major telecom providers to offer global 5G coverage with a similar decentralized network paradigm to Helium’s current LoRaWAN for IoT. Helium just officially launched their 5G gateways in October and we’re helping to strategically expand their new network coverage to the best possible locations around the world. You can learn more about Helium’s 5G network and our involvement here.  

Watch Justin Giuliano’s entire EDGE: 2021 presentation and get your FREE Helium Hotspot miner below.

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