The news is official: in San Jose, Silicon Valley, they want to use Helium HNT tokens for a project that aims to help low-income citizens pay for Internet access service.
A statement detailing the project has been published on the city’s official website.
San José and the project with Helium tokens
Silicon Valley is located in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area, and its main centre is San José, a city of over a million inhabitants and the capital of Santa Clara County.
It is also home to Cupertino, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and other small towns that have been made famous by the headquarters of some of the world’s most important tech companies.
San José is the tenth most populated city in the United States, and being the centre of Silicon Valley has led to a great concentration of talent and technological development. It is therefore the perfect city to experiment with a project such as this.
The Helium project, founded in 2013 by Shawn Fanning and Amir Haleem, aims to build a peer-to-peer wireless network for Internet access. It does this by rewarding anyone who becomes a distributor of the signal.
Helium is a project backed by GV (formerly Google Ventures), Khosla Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Multicoin Capital, FirstMark, Marc Benioff, Shawn Fanning and other VCs. Its network is already active in more than 17,000 cities worldwide.
HNT is the cryptocurrency of the Helium network
Yesterday, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo announced a public-private partnership between the city, Helium and the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) to minimize financial barriers to Internet access.
Through this initiative, HNT tokens mined from Helium Hotspot devices will be converted into prepaid gift cards that will be distributed to qualified low-income residents to subsidize their Internet subscriptions.
HNT is the native cryptocurrency of the Helium network, and yesterday’s markets did not seem to be particularly affected by the news. Its price only went from $16.5 to $17.5, after falling from $25 at the beginning of September. It is currently 34% lower than its all-time high of $26 on 23 August.
At the beginning of the year, it was only worth just over $1, so the current price is 17 times higher.
The City of San Jose’s pilot project aims to cover the cost of Internet access for more than 1,300 low-income households for one year by providing participants with a one-off payment of $120.
The Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation (MOTI) will deploy and install 20 Helium-compatible hotspots to further expand the decentralized wireless network in the city, supporting San José’s Smart City Vision.
Once these devices are up and running, they will begin extracting HNT tokens, which will then be managed by CETF, converted into prepaid cards and cash, which in turn will then be distributed to low-income households. All HNT tokens extracted from these hotspots will be used in this way.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said:
“Here in the heart of Silicon Valley, San José must set an example for how to solve problems with emerging technologies and public-private partnerships. Becoming a smarter city means leveraging emerging technologies that improve how we serve our community, making it safer, more sustainable, and more equitable. This first-of-its-kind partnership between the Mayor’s Office, Helium, and CETF represents one of many innovative public-private partnership models that we’re advancing to bridge the digital divide for residents”.