Cryptocurrency-powered decentralized wireless network Helium recently voted to switch from its platform to Solana, a leading Layer 1 blockchain network. Now that alliance is poised to grow even more vital as Helium and Solana merge their respective mobile initiatives. At Solana’s Breakpoint conference in Lisbon today, Helium and Solana Labs announced a partnership to bring the upcoming service Helium Mobile, a smartphone operator partially operated by T-Mobile, to Solana’s crypto-focused Saga smartphone. Both will be launched in early 2023. The Android-powered Saga phone comes with a free 30-day trial of Helium Mobile in the US, which includes unlimited voice and text usage during that time.
The Saga phone will not be exclusive to Helium Mobile, however: a Helium representative told Decrypt that the Solana Labs smartphone can be used with other providers.
Helium Founders, T-Mobile Launch Crypto-Powered 5G Mobile Service
Boris Renski, general manager of wireless at Nova Labs, the startup representing the founders and key players in the Helium network, told Decrypt that the partnership was a “natural fit.” Helium Network, but Saga users who enroll in Helium Mobile will be able to enjoy a seamless and integrated user experience and may be eligible to receive cryptocurrency rewards for utilizing their cellular connection, he added. Announced in September, Helium Mobile is the first cryptocurrency-based wireless carrier formed in partnership with leading wireless service provider T-Mobile. Helium Mobile gets its coverage from the decentralized Helium 5G network, where users run their own 5G nodes to share range against crypto tokens and T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G service.
Helium’s 5G network currently includes just over 6,700 antennas deployed by individual users. It’s worth noting that Helium developers have made it clear that while the network can support 5G radios, the first off-the-shelf devices will be limited to slower 4G LTE.
Why Solana Is Going Big on Mobile – And Making a Smartphone
According to Nova Labs, Helium Mobile would provide plans for as little as $5 per month. Additionally, users can gain cryptocurrency tokens by providing the network with their location information, which aids Helium Mobile in stabilizing its coverage. The $1,000 Saga smartphone from Solana, unveiled in June, has top-tier Android hardware priced at $1,000. It’s built on the Solana Mobile Stack, a software suite that enables advanced Web3 mobile apps, and the phone can be used for crypto payments, as an NFT wallet, and more. Pre-orders are open now ahead of the launch in early 2023.