Pollen and Helium: The Race To Bootstrap a 5G Network

JUL 25, 2022 • 17 Min Read

The authors of this report personally hold PCN. The authors have not purchased or sold any token for which the authors had material non-public information while researching or drafting this report. These statements are made consistent with Delphi’s commitment to transparency and should not be misconstrued as a recommendation to purchase or sell any token, or to use any protocol. The content of this report reflects the opinions of its authors and is presented for informational purposes only. This is not and should not be construed to be investment advice.

Guest authors Alex Golding and Tom Shaughnessy are also members of Delphi Ventures, which may have investments in the assets identified in this report.

Key Takeaways

  • Decentralized Wireless (or DeWi) seeks to build out physical wireless communication infrastructure (5G CBRS antennas) through incentivizing individuals to deploy hardware at homes or businesses and backhauled through an ISP.

  • Helium and Pollen are in a real estate competition across two vectors 1) the real estate within one’s home or business to deploy a 5G node and 2) to occupy the first eSIM slot on users’ devices. This report will focus on the former.

  • Pollen and Helium are in an incentive war to convince users to deploy their respective 5G Nodes. Helium has a more complex multi-token structure given its legacy incentives spent for IoT deployments (1M nodes, minimal usage) and Pollen has a simpler structure with rewards solely focused on 5G.

  • While variables will shift and no model is perfect, we expect Helium and Pollen to have payback periods of 142/238 days next year. Pollen’s higher PBP is driven from a FDV that is 1/10 of HNT’s, although if FDV parity is reached this will result in a retroactive payback period of 24 days. This in turn provides more profit for miners (all earnings after day 24 retroactively is profit) and more funding to build out the network which drives the flywheel of more coverage/capacity for users and dollars through the system.

  • The incentive war is of interest as whichever project can incentive more 5G nodes to blanket major cities to provide sufficient coverage and capacity will drive exogenous real dollar data usage through the network. Incentivizing nodes is the 1st inning and real data usage through the network is the endgame.

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