The future of the Helium network is 5G
Over the last year or so, the Helium network has grown exponentially worldwide, with more and more Hotspots being added to the network to provide proof of coverage for thousands of IoT devices. This will grow even further in 2022 with Light Hotspots and the already existing deployment of validators in 2021.
There are, however, some challenges along the way, where hotspots are becoming too crowded in major cities, and rural areas do not have enough coverage, as they are just as crucial as congested areas. On April 14th 2021, the Helium community voted to pass HIP 27, which marks a new path for the Helium network to become the world's first consumer-owned 5G network. The exact details of HIP 27 were to introduce the support of other wireless networks, with 5G being the most predominant and current.
The Path to 5G
5G is one of the advanced wireless technologies of this decade. It has seen massive investment from the major telecoms companies globally as it solves many bandwidth issues due to the increase in mobiles devices. Bringing 5G to the people’s network will make it the second-largest wireless network that the Helium network supports. If you have a phone or mobile device that supports 5G you will soon be able to connect through Helium’s network of 5G hotspots. How amazing is that?!
Building a 5G network for well-established telecoms companies is complicated to implement, not to mention the cost. It shares many similarities to building an IoT network, which r a complex infrastructure that is reliable. In the early stages of building a network such as 5G or similar, it will often be patchy with blackspots where there isn’t enough coverage for that particular area. This is often the case in urban areas.
These issues can be resolved with consumer-deployed 5G hotspots, just like the existing infrastructure of the Helium network that uses LoRaWAN technology. The overall infrastructure can be accomplished at a fraction of the price of deploying a large scale infrastructure, just like many mobile telecoms companies.
When are we likely to see 5G Hotspots in consumer deployment?
To help accelerate the progression of HIP27, Helium teamed up with FreedomFi, a company that design and manufactures 5G devices using the Magma Project. Several third-party manufacturers have also designed a 5G Hotspot, including Nebra, that will be able to support the roll-out of the 5G network in 2022.
“We may have jump-started the crowd-sourced cellular concept by launching our own gateway and radio, but our ultimate goal is to enable other hardware manufacturers and small cell vendors to adopt open-source software powering decentralized wireless architecture,” said Joey Padden, CTO, and Co-founder at FreedomFi.
With the 5G setup, users will be able to earn HNT by providing coverage. The amount earned will depend on various factors such as radio power, location and amount of data traffic passing through the hotspot.
Figure 1: Nebra’s 5G Hotspot
When the Helium 5G network launches it will only initially be available in some select US cities. It will also utilise the existing Magma Project and the open CBRS spectrum band made available by the FCC. The network will then be expected to expand globally in the following months and into 2023.
Exciting times ahead
This is most definitely a time to be excited about 5G. Helium has an excellent opportunity to expand its existing IoT network using the latest 5G technology. Many applications will benefit from this typology of the people network and easily reach users in low coverage areas.You can sign up for notifications when the Nebra 5G Hotspot will be released here.