Semtech, Helium team on nationwide LoRaWAN network

Semtech, the company behind LoRa technology, is collaborating with Helium in its efforts to develop one of the largest LoRa-based networks in North America.

The Helium network is now fully compatible with the LoRaWAN protocol and available to the LoRa community of more than 8,000 active software developers. LoRa is based on a spread spectrum technology developed by California-based Semtech and uses unlicensed spectrum.

“We are thrilled to work with Semtech and integrate the LoRaWAN protocol into our LongFi architecture to extend the reach of the Helium network,” said Amir Haleem, Helium’s CEO and co-founder, in a statement. “The combination of our technologies and platforms provides the LoRa developer community with new opportunities to create new IoT solutions for both businesses and consumers.”

Helium is positioning itself with a unique offering: Its Helium Hotspot is a new hardware device that enables anyone to own and operate a wireless network for IoT. The company says that with Helium’s own open-source blockchain technology, individuals are incentivized to deploy Helium Hotspots, which simultaneously mine cryptocurrency and provide LoRaWAN network coverage for hundreds of square miles.

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Helium has been around since 2013. Its network, introduced in the fourth quarter of 2019, is now available in more than 745 U.S. cities, including markets like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami and Austin.

According to the companies, there are over 4,300 Helium Hotspots sold to date since nationwide shipping started in October 2019 and that number is growing. They say that combining Semtech’s LoRa devices with Helium’s distributed, open-source approach to building a ubiquitous network allows any manufacturer, developer or application to use LoRaWAN compatible technology to connect devices across the nation.

Helium was co-founded by Shawn Fanning and Amir Haleem in 2013; Haleem has an extensive background in triple-A video games. The company is backed by GV (formerly Google Ventures), Khosla Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Multicoin Capital, FirstMark, Marc Benioff, Fanning and other VCs.