Helium, a blockchain-powered wireless network, announced that they are planning for a vast 5G rollout.
Last month, Helium raised $111 million through an early-stage financing round led by Andreessen Horowitz. This investment was made from Andreessen's crypto venture fund of $2.2 billion.
The company was founded to build a wireless network that can support the internet of things (IoT). These devices include sensors and other low-bandwidth devices that send information over a network.
Helium's new partnership is an exciting development. It is collaborating to create a 5G wireless network that can be used by smartphones. This is in contrast to a centralized wireless network provided by providers such as Verizon and AT&T.
The network is decentralized and is not controlled by one company or person. More importantly, the network is censorship-resistant. The network is named "FreedomFi," which is a fitting name.
FreedomFi has partnered with a few manufacturing partners to create the small cells and gateways required to support the 5G network.
Verizon, a wireless network giant, hopes to have 30,000 small cells in its network by the end of 2021. This shows that FreedomFi wants to compete with the big players in the industry.
Helium FreedomFi will not be managing these cells. Customers will be able to purchase them to build their decentralized networks.
Anyone can set up this small DIY (Do-it-Yourself) cells. The cells can be thought of as miniature cell towers. The cells are about the same size as a hardback book. They can be placed on a desk or outside of the house. Plug them in, configure the software, and you are good to go.
These cells once set up, would provide 5G coverage for any compatible devices within range. Imagine an entire office building being 5G enabled, with only FreedomFi cells powering employees' desks.
Helium incentive structure alone makes this story well worth our time. The incentive structure was what caught my attention.
The small cell owner gets paid in Helium Network Token (HNT), Helium's native currency. The owner of the small cell is mining cryptocurrency by operating a gateway and small cell. This is an economic incentive to individual users to keep the 5G network decentralized.
The mining will eventually cover both the initial costs of the equipment and the electricity required to operate the small cells.
The prices of the devices vary depending on their range between $1,500 and $2,000. The range of the less expensive devices is about three times that of Wi-Fi hotspots. This device is more suitable for use in a warehouse or commercial building. Larger devices can be connected up to several miles away.
This is precisely what I mean when I say that blockchain technology will give rise to "Web 3.0". This technology will give control back to the end-user and take away the power from the big incumbents.
A 5G wireless network that is fully crowdsourced and supported by enough community participation and awareness can be built without the involvement of any government or corporation.
There are no complex issues with the radio frequency spectrum (RF) also.
Helium FreedomFi will be operating over unlicensed Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum (CBRS), so the network can launch as soon as the equipment is installed and manufactured.
It will initially be a patchwork of deployments. But, over time, it could provide good coverage, especially in densely populated areas, where it is more likely to be adopted.
Would you be open to participating in the FreedomFi network? Would you consider purchasing and operating your cell, contributing to creating a censorship-free network, and earning an income doing so? You decide.