Helium Founders, T-Mobile Launch Crypto-Powered 5G Mobile Service

In short

  • Nova Labs and T-Mobile have teamed up to launch Helium Mobile, a 5G wireless service for smartphones.
  • It will use Helium’s decentralized and encrypted 5G network as well as T-Mobile’s network, and switch between the two as needed.

Crypto-powered wireless network Helium will soon be able to showcase its 5G mobile vision to many more users. Today, Helium Network founder Nova Labs announced that it has partnered with T-Mobile to create a new 5G wireless service called Helium Mobile.

Helium Mobile will be a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service and will operate both the T-Mobile and Helium networks for customers in the United States. Scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2023, the service will leverage both T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G network and Helium user-operated 5G nodes.

T-Mobile and Nova Labs signed a five-year deal to power the service.

By combining networks and switching between the two as needed, Nova Labs says the service will offer two important economic differentiators from traditional services: plans will start at just $5 per month, and users can also potentially earn rewards. cryptographic tokens for data sharing.

Boris Renski, co-founder and CEO of Nova Labs-owned firmware and hardware maker FreedomFi, said using Helium’s decentralized 5G network, which includes more than 4,500 active nodes operated by the user at present, which means that Nova does not have to invest in capital expenditure to build infrastructure.

“It allows us to build a cellular network with absolutely disruptive economics,” he said. Decrypt.

In addition to this, Helium Mobile will allow users to choose to receive the network’s MOBILE token rewards in exchange for providing anonymized data about their network usage. Renski said the service will treat these users as contributors, as the data will be used to monitor the quality and availability of the network as it evolves, but that’s purely optional.

Helium is a network of decentralized wireless hotspots that incentivize users with cryptographic tokens to run a node and take over the network. The initial Helium network, focused on powering Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as sensors and trackers, has more than 950,000 node operators now.

The 5G network is newer and so far has far fewer users, as 5G hardware is also currently much more expensive than the nodes that support the original IoT network. In June, the Helium Foundation revealed plans to create the original HNT Reward Token and create a new token for each networkto support other wireless protocols in the future.

How it works

Helium’s own 5G network will be Helium Mobile’s preferred network when coverage becomes available, Renski said. It’s a relatively small network right now, but it’s growing: Helium’s second network has taken shape since the launch of MOBILE Token Rewards, with over 1,700 new user nodes activated over the past few years. Last 30 days – and Renski said the pace is picking up.

Initially, voice calls will take place entirely on T-Mobile’s network, while data transfers will use the service provided by node operators in the decentralized network, where available. Otherwise, it automatically falls back to T-Mobile’s network. As Helium’s network grows, more of the load will be shifted from T-Mobile’s infrastructure.

There’s still work to be done in the coming months to make the automated switching process more seamless, Renski said. Decrypt. Initially, users may experience small delays when their smartphone switches between networks, but Nova Labs and T-Mobile will continue to work together to reduce and potentially eliminate these discrepancies over time.

“I would say we’re maybe halfway through that journey at this point,” Renski said of the refinement of the technical infrastructure. “But we still have some way to go to ensure that all users have a smooth user experience.”

Additionally, Nova Labs is working with smartphone manufacturers to design phones specifically designed to enable seamless switching. Users will also be able to bring their own phone, but a press release suggests that Helium-certified phones will be “more efficient” at validating network coverage and thus be able to earn more MOBILE token rewards.

Helium Mobile’s news follows the launch of a proposal to move the network from its own custom blockchain to Solana, a burgeoning blockchain platform for apps, DeFi, and NFT. Token-based voting is set to end on September 22, with an overwhelming majority of users vote in favor of the proposal at the time of this writing.

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