Helium Network (HNT) continues to impress with its progress and growth, this time moving into a great partnership with Dish Network, which has become the largest mobile operator to use Helium’s blockchain-based incentive model, with customers deploying their own 5G hotspots using the Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum.
Dish is a company familiar with blockchain, as it was the largest company to start accepting Bitcoin as of 2014 and the first subscription-based TV provider that could also be made with Bitcoin.
Now, it’s backing the blockchain initiative happening at Helium, which is backed by Google Ventures (now GV) and aims to create the first decentralized wireless network to connect devices to the internet.
The evolution of Helium
Helium’s network has grown from 15,000 LoRA hotspots in early 2021 to more than 240,000 today, in 21,000 cities in North America, Europe and Asia.
This is a remarkable growth, something that has earned the confidence of Dish, which wants to be part of the journey.
The first meeting and the partnership
The first meeting between Helium and Dish took place about three years ago. Since then, Helium has made a lot of progress, something that Chris Ergen, head of the Dish Office of Innovation, admitted:
“We started talking about how we could leverage the same strategy to offer opportunities for people who want to help build networks and for our customers to get connectivity in an area that might not otherwise be possible,” he told Fierce, adding: “This is really just the beginning. We’ve announced the partnership and now we need to move into execution.”
The idea evolves… for the world to win
The idea is not entirely unlike how cable companies wanted to exploit Wi-Fi hotspots in people’s homes, or how wireless companies provided femtocells to people who wanted to improve coverage in their homes. This time, however, the proposal is smarter, as with these previous upgrades it wasn’t entirely clear to consumers how they would benefit from them.
In this model of Helium, individuals who help build the network are rewarded. By installing a hotspot in a home or office, a customer can provide or enhance wireless coverage using CBRS spectrum. In return, the customer will earn rewards in the form of Helium currency.
The entire network is powered by the Helium blockchain, creating a wireless economy through an economic model known as Burn-and-Mint Equilibrium (BNM).
“Using Helium Network’s technology and blockchain-based incentive model, Dish is becoming a pioneer in supporting a whole new way of connecting people and things,”HELIUM CEO AND CO-FOUNDER AMIR HALEEM,
“CBRS-based 5G hotspots will be deployed by customers, creating opportunities for users, partners and the entire ecosystem.”HELIUM CEO AND CO-FOUNDER AMIR HALEEM,
Dish + Helium
Dish and Helium are like a match in a dance, according to Tammy Parker, principal analyst of GlobalData. Their partnership reinforces Dish’s position as a “cutting-edge force” in the wireless industry, while adding credibility to the network’s efforts to create a decentralized 5G CBRS network.
“By rewarding consumers with cryptocurrencies in exchange for deploying Helium network gateways, Helium’s approach can begin to upend the long-standing network deployment model in which an operator buys, deploys and controls all of its own network equipment,”
… Parker said, noting that Helium has already demonstrated that blockchain technology and incentive creation can be used to create a crowdsourced communications network.
Dish will be the first mobile network partner to use the Helium network to increase coverage, but it won’t be the last as other US mobile network operators and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) are likely evaluating how they might use its approach.
Helium is well underway with its plans, having promised earlier this year that the first 5G-enabled gateways from Helium’s partner FreedomFi would start shipping in September, which they did.
Helium’s 5G network will initially be limited to the US, due to its reliance on the CBRS band, but the model can be applied to other nations, opening up potential partnerships with 5G network operators worldwide for Helium, Parker said.