Buckle Up. Helium 5G is Coming.
The Approval of HIP 27 paves the way for 5G coverage on the Helium Network and gives hosts a new way to mine HNT
The Helium Network is revolutionizing commercial wireless networks by enabling individuals to own and host a piece of the infrastructure. The network was originally conceived on LoRaWAN, but the vision has always been to apply the same decentralized properties and economic incentives to other wireless networks. This month, the Helium Community took a major stride into the next wireless network. We’re thrilled to share that HIP 27 has been approved and paves the way for 5G on the Helium Network.
Helium Data Credits (DCs) were originally designed with a fixed ratio to data packets transmitted over the network. To bring 5G and other high throughput networks to Helium, HIP 27 introduces a chain variable that creates a conversion ratio for DCs to data based on both network type and geography. The HIP establishes a network usage cost for 5G that is orders of magnitude cheaper compared with legacy infrastructure. This wouldn’t be possible without the right technology provider, which is why we’re also excited to share that FreedomFi, a leader in open 5G, is joining the Helium ecosystem as the first approved 5G gateway partner.
To help accelerate the proliferation of 5G, the DeWi Alliance is pleased to share that FreedomFi has been awarded the first DeWi Alliance grant. Since late 2019, FreedomFi has been working on a gateway that leverages the recently opened 3.5 GHz band also referred to as Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). The grant will fund work to make FreedomFi gateways compatible with the Helium Network, allowing anyone to mine cryptocurrency by providing 5G cellular coverage. Like the majority of Helium technologies, FreedomFi’s software is open source. This, combined with CBRS shared spectrum makes it economically feasible to set up a 5G access point for individuals who want to provide coverage within the Helium network.
As a next step, The Decentralized Wireless Alliance will be working with FreedomFi and the Helium community to establish pilot roll-outs in select US cities beginning in Q3 of 2021, with the goal of increasing 5G coverage in the United States through partnerships with mobile network operators (MNOs). FreedomFi gateways will interoperate with the Helium Network and mine HNT for providing 5G coverage. If you’d like to participate in the pilot program, you can opt-in for a 5G gateway starting today: www.freedomfi.com/Helium5G
The cost to scale 5G coverage is significant for MNOs like AT&T, Verizon or DISH, and therefore are also challenging for mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), such as GoogleFi or Boost Mobile who lease service from MNOs. While 5G supports higher data throughput, it does so at the expense of range, which translates to sourcing, constructing, and managing new cell towers to relay data. Not only is infrastructure a problem for carriers, but the economics also become unfavorable in remote or rural locations, plus 5G’s physical penetration in urban environments presents a major impediment to scaling 5G coverage.
HIP 27 paves the way for Helium 5G that can be used by MNOs and MVNOs to extend and complement their coverage at a fraction of traditional infrastructure cost. Carriers typically pay up to $5 per GB, however we anticipate passing the same amount of data through Helium 5G will likely cost $1 or less. The value of which passes to the decentralized community of Helium hotspot hosts.
We expect Helium 5G to grow rapidly. The community is bigger and stronger than ever, and the same incentive model that’s activated nearly 30,000 Helium hotspots (and well over 100,000 on backorder) for LoRa coverage can now be applied to 5G — a market that’s orders of magnitude larger. You can get involved with the initial 5G rollout by pre-ordering a gateway here: www.freedomfi.com/Helium5G